From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Although its boundaries varied from one era to the next, the land of Babylon was always centred on Mesopotamia, the region of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. This was the region where the biblical story of early human history is centred and where the Garden of Eden was located ( Genesis 2:10-14). In ancient times the northern part was often known as Akkad (or Accad;  Genesis 10:10), and the southern part as Sumer, then Shinar, and later Chaldea ( Genesis 10:10;  Genesis 11:2;  Genesis 11:28;  Ezekiel 12:13;  Ezekiel 23:15). The land was named after its chief city, Babylon, which earlier was known as Babel ( Genesis 11:9;  Jeremiah 51:31; see Babel ).

Copyright Statemen

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

 2 Kings 24:1 . The capital of Chaldea, built by Nimrod,  Genesis 10:10 . It was under Nebuchadnezzar that Babylon, then become the seat of universal empire, is supposed to have acquired that extent and magnificence, and that those stupendous works were completed which rendered it the wonder of the world and of posterity: and accordingly, this prince, then the most potent on the earth, arrogated to himself the whole glory of its erection; and in the pride of his heart exclaimed, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built?" The city at this period stood on both sides of the river, which intersected it in the middle. It was, according to the least computation, that of Diodorus Siculus, 45 miles in circumference; and according to Herodotus, the older author of the two, 60 miles. Its shape was that of a square, traversed each way by 25 principal streets; which of course intersected each other, dividing the city into 626 squares. These streets were terminated at each end by gates of brass, of prodigious size and strength, with a smaller one opening toward the river. The walls, from the most moderate accounts, were 75 feet in height and 32 in breadth; while Herodotus makes them 300 in height and 75 in breadth: which last measurement, incredible as it may seem, is worthy of credit, as Herodotus is much the oldest author who describes them, and who gives their original height; whereas, those who follow him in their accounts of these stupendous walls, describe them as they were after they had been taken down to the less elevation by Darius Hystaspes. They were built of brick, cemented with bitumen instead of mortar; and were encompassed by a broad and deep ditch, lined with the same materials, as were also the banks of the river in its course through the city: the inhabitants descending to the water by steps through the smaller brazen gates before mentioned. The houses were three or four stories high, separated from each other by small courts or gardens, with open spaces and even fields interspersed over the immense area enclosed within the walls. Over the river was a bridge, connecting the two halves of the city, which stood, the one on its eastern, and the other on its western, bank; the river running nearly north and south. The bridge was 5 furlongs in length, and 30 feet in breadth, and had a palace at each end, with, it is said, a subterraneous passage beneath the river, from one to the other: the work of Semiramis. Within the city was the temple of Belus, or Jupiter, which Herodotus describes as a square of two stadia, or a quarter of a mile: in the midst of which arose the celebrated tower, to which both the same writer, and Strabo, give an elevation of one stadium, or 660 feet; and the same measure at its base; the whole being divided into eight separate towers, one above another, of decreasing dimensions to the summit; where stood a chapel, containing a couch, table, and other things of gold. Here the principal devotions were performed; and over this, on the highest platform of all, was the observatory, by the help of which the Babylonians arrived to such perfection in astronomy, that Calisthenes the philosopher, who accompanied, Alexander to Babylon, found astronomical observations for 1903 years backwards from that time; which reach as high as the 115th year after the flood. On either side of the river, according to Diodorus, adjoining to the bridge, was a palace; that on the western bank being by much the larger. This palace was eight miles in circumference, and strongly fortified with three walls one within another. Within it were the celebrated pensile or hanging gardens, enclosed in a square of 400 feet. These gardens were raised on terraces, supported by arches, or rather by piers, laid over with broad flat stones; the arch appearing to be unknown to the Babylonians: which courses of piers rose above one another, till they reached the level of the top of the city walls. On each terrace or platform, a deep layer of mould was laid, in which flowers, shrubs and trees were planted; some of which are said to have reached the height of 50 feet. On the highest level was a reservoir, with an engine to draw water up from the river by which the whole was watered. This novel and astonishing structure, the work of a monarch who knew not how to create food for his own pampered fancy, or labour for his debased subjects or unhappy captives, was undertaken to please his wife Amyitis; that she might see an imitation of the hills and woods of her native country, Media.

Yet, while in the plenitude of its power, and, according to the most accurate chronologers, 160 years before the foot of an enemy had entered it, the voice of an enemy had entered it, the voice of prophecy pronounced the doom of the mighty and unconquered Babylon. A succession of ages brought it gradually to the dust; and the gradation of its fall is marked till it sinks at last into utter desolation. At a time when nothing but magnificence was around this city, emphatically called the great, fallen Babylon was delineated by the pencil of inspiration exactly as every traveller now describes its ruins.

The immense fertility of Chaldea, which retained also the name of Babylonia till after the Christian aera, corresponded with the greatness of Babylon. It was the most fertile region of the whole east. Babylonia was one vast plain, adorned and enriched by the Euphrates and the Tigris, from which, and from the numerous canals that intersected the country from the one river to the other, water was distributed over the fields by manual labour and by hydraulic machines, giving rise, in that warm climate and rich exhaustless soil, to an exuberance of produce without a known parallel, over so extensive a region, either in ancient or modern times. Herodotus states, that he knew not how to speak of its wonderful fertility, which none but eye witnesses would credit; and, though writing in the language of Greece, itself a fertile country, he expresses his own consciousness that his description of what he actually saw would appear to be improbable, and to exceed belief. Such was the "Chaldees' excellency," that it departed not on the first conquest, nor on the final extinction of its capital, but one metropolis of Assyria arose after another in the land of Chaldea, when Babylon had ceased to be "the glory of kingdoms."

2. Manifold are the prophecies respecting Babylon and the land of the Chaldeans; and the long lapse of ages has served to confirm their fulfilment in every particular, and to tender it at last complete. The judgments of Heaven are not casual, but sure; they are not arbitrary, but righteous. And they were denounced against the Babylonians, and the inhabitants of Chaldea, expressly because of their idolatry, tyranny, oppression, pride, covetousness, drunkenness, falsehood, and other wickedness. The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amos did see: "The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people: a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of Hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there: neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there: and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces." "Thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. Thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. Thou art cast out of the grave like an abominable branch.—I will cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, the son, and nephew, saith the Lord. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of Hosts." "Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground." "Thus saith the Lord, that saith unto the deep, Be dry; and I will dry up thy rivers: that saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure,—and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut." "Bel boweth down," &c. "Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon: sit on the ground, there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans. Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; for thou shalt no more be called the lady of kingdoms."

Many other prophecies against Babylon, and the whole land of Chaldea, are found in the Old Testament; and though the limits of this article will only allow a reference to be made to the exact fulfilment of a few, there is not one of the great number of predictions on record, the accomplishment of which has not been remarked by numerous writers, and more especially by those who have visited the spot. For, though for many centuries the site of Babylon was unknown, or the ruins of other Chaldean cities mistaken for its remains, its true situation and present condition have been, within a few years, satisfactorily ascertained, and accurately described, by several most intelligent and enterprising travellers.

When in the plenitude of its greatness, splendour and strength, Babylon first yielded to the arms of Cyrus, whose name, and the manoeuvre by which the city was taken, were mentioned by Isaiah nearly two hundred years before the event; which was also predicted by Jeremiah: "Go up, O Elam, (or Persia,) besiege, O Media. The Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it." The kings of Persia and Media, prompted by a common interest, freely entered into a league against Babylon, and with one accord entrusted the command of their united armies to Cyrus, the relative and eventually the successor of them both.—But the taking of Babylon was not reserved for these kingdoms alone: other nations had to be "prepared against her." "Set up a standard in the land; blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Aschenaz: Lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country" &c. Cyrus subdued the Armenians, who had revolted against Media, spared their king, bound them over anew to their allegiance, by kindness rather than by force, and incorporated their army with his own.—"The mighty men of Babylon have foreborne to fight. They have remained in their holds; their might hath failed, they became as women." So dispirited became its people, that Babylon, which had made the world to tremble, was long besieged, without making any effort to drive off the enemy. But, possessed of provisions for twenty years which in their timid caution they had plentifully stored, they derided Cyrus from their impregnable walls, within which they remained. Their profligacy, their wickedness and false confidence were unabated; they continued to live carelessly in pleasures: and Babylon the great, unlike to many a small fortress and un-walled town, made not one struggle to regain its freedom or to be rid of the foe.—Much time having been lost, and no progress being made in the siege, the anxiety of Cyrus was strongly excited, and he was reduced to great perplexity, when at last it was suggested and immediately determined to divert the course of the Euphrates. And while the unconscious and reckless citizens were engaged in dancing and merriment, the river was suddenly turned into the lake, the trench, and the canals; and the Persians, both foot and horse, so soon as the subsiding of the water permitted, entered by its channel, and were followed by the allies in array, along the dry part of the river. "I will dry up thy sea, and make thy springs dry. That saith to the deep, Be dry, I will dry up thy rivers."—One detachment was placed where the river first enters the city, and another where it leaves it. And "one post did run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken at the end, and that the passages are shut." "They were taken," says Herodotus, "by surprise; and such is the extent of the city, that, as the inhabitants themselves affirm, they who lived in the extremities were made prisoners before any alarm was communicated to the centre of the place," where the palace stood. Thus a "snare was laid for Babylon, it was taken, and it was not aware; it was found and also caught; for it had sinned against the Lord. How is the praise of the whole earth surprised!"—

"In their heat I will make their feasts, and I will make them drunken, that they may rejoice and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not awake, saith the Lord. I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter," &c. "I will make drunken her princes and her wise men, her captains and her rulers, and her mighty men, and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep," &c. Cyrus, as the night drew on, stimulated his assembled troops to enter the city, because in that night of general revel within the walls, many of them were asleep, many drunk, and confusion universally prevailed. On passing, without obstruction or hinderance, into the city, the Persians, slaying some, putting others to flight, and joining with the revellers, as if slaughter had been merriment, hastened by the shortest way to the palace, and reached it ere yet a messenger had told the king that his city was taken. The gates of the palace, which was strongly fortified, were shut. The guards stationed before them, were drinking beside a blazing light, when the Persians rushed impetuously upon them. A louder and altered clamour, no longer joyous, caught the ear of the inmates of the palace, and the bright light showed them the work of destruction, without revealing its cause. And not aware of the presence of an enemy in the midst of Babylon, the king himself, (who had been roused from his revelry by the hand writing on the wall,) excited by the warlike tumult at the gates, commanded those within to examine from whence it arose; and according to the same word, by which "the gates" (leading from the river to the city) "were not shut, the loins of kings were loosed to open before Cyrus the two-leaved gates" of the palace. The eager Persians sprang in. "The king of Babylon heard the report of them; anguish took hold of him;" he and all who were about him perished; God had "numbered" his kingdom and finished it; it was "divided," and given to the Medes and Persians; the lives of the Babylonian princes, and lords, and rulers, and captains, closed with that night's festival; the drunken slept "a perpetual sleep, and did not wake."— "I will fill thee with men as with caterpillars." Not only did the Persian army enter with ease as caterpillars, together with all the nations that had come up against Babylon, but they seemed also as numerous. Cyrus, after the capture of the city, made a great display of his cavalry in the presence of the Babylonians, and in the midst of Babylon. Four thousand guards stood before the palace gates, and two thousand on each side. These advanced as Cyrus approached; two thousand spearmen followed them. These were succeeded by four square masses of Persian cavalry, each consisting of ten thousand men: and to these again were added, in their order, the Median, Armenian, Hyrcanian, Caducian, and Sacian horsemen,—all, as before, "riding upon horses, every man in array,"—with lines of chariots, four abreast, concluding the train of the numerous hosts. Cyrus afterward reviewed, at Babylon, the whole of his army, consisting of one hundred and twenty thousand horse, two thousand chariots, and six hundred thousand foot. Babylon, which was taken when not aware, and within whose walls no enemy, except a captive, had been ever seen, was thus "filled with men as with caterpillars," as if there had not been a wall around it. The Scriptures do not relate the manner in which Babylon was taken, nor do they ever allude to the exact fulfilment of the prophecies. But there is, in every particular, a strict coincidence between the predictions of the prophets and the historical narratives, both of Herodotus and Xenophon.

3. Every step in the progress of the decline of Babylon was the accomplishment of a prophecy. Conquered, for the first time, by Cyrus, it was afterward reduced from an imperial to a tributary city. "Come down and sit in the dust, O daughter of Babylon: sit on the ground, there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans." After the Babylonians rebelled against Darius, the walls were reduced in height, and all the gates destroyed. "The wall of Babylon shall fall, her walls are thrown down."— Xerxes, after his ignominious retreat from Greece, rifled the temples of Babylon, the golden images alone of which were estimated at 20,000,000 l. beside treasures of vast amount. "I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will bring forth out of his mouth that which he has swallowed up; I will do judgment upon the graven images of Babylon."—Alexander the Great attempted to restore it to its former glory, and designed to make it the metropolis of a universal empire. But while the building of the temple of Belus, and the reparation of the embankments of the Euphrates, were actually carrying on, the conqueror of the world died, at the commencement of this his last undertaking, in the height of his power, and in the flower of his age. "Take balm for her pain, if so be that she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed." The building of the neighbouring city of Seleucia was the chief cause of the decline or Babylon, and drained it of a great part of its population. And at a later period, or about 130 years before the birth of Christ, Humerus, a Parthian governor, who was noted as excelling all tyrants in cruelty, exercised great severities on the Babylonians; and having burned the forum and some of the temples, and destroyed the fairest parts of the city, reduced many of the inhabitants to slavery on the slightest pretexts, and caused them, together with all their households, to be sent into Media. "They shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast." The "golden city" thus gradually verged, for centuries, toward poverty and desolation. Notwithstanding that Cyrus resided chiefly at Babylon, and sought to reform the government, and remodel the manners of the Babylonians, the succeeding kings of Persia preferred, as the seat of empire, Susa, Persepolis, or Ecbatana, situated in their own country: and in like manner the successors of Alexander did not attempt to complete his purpose of restoring Babylon to its preeminence and glory; but, after the subdivision of his mighty empire, the very kings of Assyria. during their temporary residence even in Chaldea, deserted Babylon, and dwelt in Seleucia. And thus the foreign inhabitants, first Persians and afterward Greeks, imitating their sovereigns by deserting Babylon, acted as if they verily had said, "Forsake her, and let us go every man unto his own country; for her judgment is reached unto heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies."

4. But kindred judgments, the issue of common crimes, rested on the land of Chaldea, as well as on its doomed metropolis. "They come from a far country, from the end of the earth, to destroy the whole land. Many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of thee also," &c. The Persians, the Macedonians, the Parthians, the Romans, the Saracens, and the Turks, are the chief of the many nations who have unscrupulously and unsparingly "served themselves" of the land of the Chaldeans: and Cyrus and Darius, kings of Persia; Alexander the Great; and Seleucus, king of Assyria; Demetrius and Antiochus the Great; Trajan, Severus, Julian, and Heraclius, emperors of Rome; the victorious Omar, the successor of Mohammed; Holagou, and Tamerlane, are "great kings" who successively subdued or desolated Chaldea, or exacted from it tribute to such an extent, as scarcely any other country ever paid to a single conqueror. And though the names of some of these nations were unknown to the Babylonians, and unheard of in the world at the time of the prophecy, most of these "many nations and great kings" need now but to be named, to show that, in local relation to Chaldea, "they came from the utmost border, from the coasts of the earth."

— "I will punish the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations; cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest. A drought is on her waters, and they shall be dried up. Behold the hinder-most of the nations, a dry land and a desert." The land of the Chaldeans was indeed made—perpetual, or long continued, desolation. Ravaged and spoiled for ages, the Chaldees' excellency finally disappeared, and the land became desolate, as still it remains. Rauwolff, who passed through it in 1574, describes the country as bare, and "so dry and barren that it cannot be tilled." And the most recent travellers all concur in describing it in similar terms. On the one side, near to the site of Opis, "the country all around," says Mr. Buckingham, "appears to be one wide desert, of sandy, and barren sod, thinly scattered over with brushwood and tufts of reedy grass." On the other, between Bussorah and. Bagdad, "immediately on either bank of the Tigris, observes Mignan, "is the untrodden desert. The absence of all cultivation, the sterile, arid, and wild character of the whole scene, formed a contrast to the rich and delightful accounts delineated in Scripture. The natives, in travelling over these pathless deserts, are compelled to explore their way by the stars."

"The whole country between Bagdad and Hillah is a perfectly flat and (with the exception of a few spots as you approach the latter place) uncultivated waste. That it was at some former period in a far different state, is evident from the number of canals by which it is traversed, now dry and neglected; and the quantity of heaps of earth covered with fragments of brick and broken tiles, which are seen in every direction, the indisputable traces of former population. At present the only inhabitants of the tract are the Sobeide Arabs. Around, as far as the eye can reach is a trackless desert." — "Her cities are desolations." The course of the Tigris through Babylonia, instead of being adorned with cities, is marked with the sites of "ancient ruins." Sitace, Sabata, Narisa, Fuchera, Sendia, "no longer exist." A succession of longitudinal mounds, crossed at right angles by others, mark the supposed site of Artemita, or Destagered. Its once luxuriant gardens are covered with grass; and a higher mound distinguishes "the royal residence" from the ancient streets. "Extensive ridges and mountains, (near to Houmania,) varying in height and extent, are seen branching in every direction." A wall, with sixteen bastions, is the only memorial of Apollonia. The once magnificent Seleucia is now a scene of desolation. There is not a single entire edifice, but the country is strewed for miles with fragments of decayed buildings. "As far," says Major Keppel, "as the eye could reach, the horizon presented a broken line of mounds; the whole of this place was a desert flat." On the opposite bank of the Tigris, where Ctesiphon its rival stood, beside fragments of walls and broken masses of brick work, and remains of vast structures encumbered with heaps of earth, there is one magnificent monument of antiquity "in a remarkably perfect state of preservation," "a large and noble pile of building, the front of which presents to view a wall three hundred feet in length, adorned with four rows of arched recesses, with a central arch, in span eighty-six feet, and above a hundred feet high, supported by walls sixteen feet thick, and leading to a hall which extends to the depth of a hundred and fifty-six feet," the width of the building. A great part of the back wall, and of the roof, is broken down; but that which remains "still appears much larger than Westminster Abbey. It is supposed to have been the lofty palace of Chosroes; but there desolation now reigns. "On the site of Ctesiphon." says Mignan, the smallest insect under heaven would not find a single blade of grass wherein to hide itself, nor one drop of water to allay its thirst." In the rear of the palace, and attached to it, are mounds two miles in circumference, indicating the utter desolation of buildings, formed to minister to luxury.

5. But let us come to the fulfilment of these wonderful prophecies in the present condition of Babylon itself, as described by those who have most recently visited it.

"Babylon shall become heaps." Babylon the glory of kingdoms is now the greatest of ruins. "Immense tumuli of temples, palaces, and habitations of every description," are every where seen, and form "long and varied lines of ruins," which in some places, says Sir R. K. Porter, "rather resemble natural hills than mounds which cover the remains of great and splendid edifices." These buildings, which were once the labour of slaves and the pride of kings, are now misshapen heaps of rubbish. "The whole face of the country," observes Rich, "is covered with vestiges of building, in some places consisting of brick walls surprisingly fresh, in others, merely a vast succession of mounds of rubbish, of such indeterminate figures, variety, and extent, as to involve the person who should have formed any theory in inextricable confusion."— "Let nothing of her be left." "Vast heaps constitute all that now remains of Ancient Babylon," says Rich. All its grandeur is departed; all its treasures have been spoiled; all its excellence has utterly vanished; the very heaps are searched for bricks, when nothing else can be found; even these are not left, wherever they can be taken away; and Babylon has for ages been "a quarry above ground," ready to the hand of every successive despoiler. Without the most remote allusion to this prophecy, Captain Mignan describes a mound attached to the palace, ninety yards in breadth by half that height, the whole of which is deeply furrowed, in the same manner as the generality of the mounds. "The ground is extremely soft, and tiresome to walk over, and appears completely exhausted of all its building materials; nothing now is left, save one towering hill, the earth of which is mixed with fragments of broken brick, red varnished pottery, tile, bitumen, mortar, glass, shells, and pieces of mother of pearl,"—worthless fragments, of no value to the poorest. "From thence shall she be taken, let nothing of her be left." While the workmen "cast her up as heaps" while excavating for bricks, that they may "take" them "from thence," and that "nothing may be left;" they labour more than trebly in the fulfilment of prophecy: for the numerous and deep excavations form pools of water, on the overflowing of the Euphrates, and, annually filled, they are not dried up throughout the year. "Deep cavities are also formed by the Arabs, when digging for hidden treasure." Thus "the ground," says Buckingham, "is sometimes covered with pools of water in the hollows."

"Sit in the dust, sit on the ground, O daughter of the Chaldeans." The surface of the mounds which form all that remains of Babylon, consists of decomposed buildings, reduced to dust; and over all the ancient streets and habitations, there is literally nothing but the dust of the ground on which to sit.— "Thy nakedness shall be uncovered." "Our path," says Captain Mignan, "lay through the great mass of ruined heaps on the site of ‘shrunken Babylon;' and I am perfectly incapable of conveying an adequate idea of the dreary, lonely nakedness that appeared before me."—"Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness." "There reigns throughout the ruins," says Sir R. K. Porter, "a silence profound as the grave." "Babylon is now a silent scene, a sublime solitude."— "It shall never be inhabited, nor dwelt in from generation to generation." From Rauwolff's testimony it appears that, in the sixteenth century, "there was not a house to be seen." And now "the eye wanders over a barren desert, in which the ruins are nearly the only indication that it had ever been inhabited." "It is impossible," adds Major Keppel, "to behold this scene and not to be reminded how exactly the predictions of Isaiah and Jeremiah have been fulfilled, even in the appearance Babylon was doomed to present, that ‘she should never be inhabited;' that ‘the Arabian should not pitch his tent there;' that she should ‘become heaps;' that her cities should be ‘a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness.'" "Babylon is spurned alike by the heel of the Ottomans, the Israelites, and the sons of Ishmael." It is "a tenantless and desolate metropolis," remarks Mignan. "It shall not be inhabited, but be wholly desolate. Neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there, neither shall the shepherds make their folds there." It was prophesied of Ammon that it should be a stable for camels and a couching place for flocks; and of Philistia, that it should be cottages for shepherds, and a pasture of flocks.

But Babylon was to be visited with a far greater desolation, and to become unfit or unsuited even for such a purpose; and that neither a tent would be pitched there, even by an Arab, nor a fold made by a shepherd, implies the last degree of solitude and desolation. "It is common in these parts for shepherds to make use of ruined edifices to shelter their flocks in." But Babylon is an exception. Instead of taking the bricks from thence, the shepherd might very readily erect a defence from wild beasts, and make a fold for his flock amidst the heaps of Babylon; and the Arab who fearlessly traverses it by day, might pitch his tent by night. But neither the one nor the other could now be persuaded to remain a single night among the ruins. The superstitious dread of evil spirits, far more than the natural terror of the wild beasts, effectually prevents them. Captain Mignan was accompanied by six Arabs, completely armed; but he "could not induce them to remain toward night, from the apprehension of evil spirits. It is impossible to eradicate this idea from the minds of this people, who are very deeply imbued with superstition." "Wild beasts of the deserts shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs (goats) shall dance there," &c. "There are many dens of wild beasts in various parts. And while the lower excavations are often pools of water, in most of the cavities are numbers of bats and owls." The king of the forest now ranges over the site of that Babylon which Nebuchadnezzar built for his own glory. And the temple of Belus, the greatest work of man, is now like unto a natural den of lions. Two or three majestic lions were seen upon its heights by Sir Robert Ker Porter, as he was approaching it; and "the broad prints of their feet were left plain in the clayey soil." Major Keppel saw there a similar footprint of a lion. It is also the unmolested retreat of jackals, hyenas, and other noxious animals. Wild beasts are numerous at the Mujelibe, as well as on Birs Nimrood. "The mound," says Kinneir, "was full of large holes: we entered some of them, and found them strewed with the carcasses and skeletons of animals recently killed. The ordure of wild beasts was so strong, that prudence got the better of curiosity; for we had no doubt as to the savage nature of the inhabitants. Our guides, indeed, told us, that all the ruins abounded in lions, and other wild beasts: so literally has the divine prediction been fulfilled, that wild beasts of the deserts should lie there, and their houses be full of doleful creatures; that the wild beasts of the island should cry in their desolate houses."

"The sea is come upon Babylon. She is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof." The traces of the western bank of the Euphrates are now no longer discernible. The river overflows unrestrained; and the very ruins, with "every appearance of the embankment," have been swept away. "The ground there is low and marshy, and, presents, not the slightest vestige of former buildings, of any description whatever." "Morasses and ponds," says Porter, "tracked the ground in various parts. For a long time after the general subsiding of the Euphrates, great part of this plain is little better than a swamp," &c. "The ruins of Babylon are then inundated, so as to render many parts of them inaccessible, by converting the valleys among them into morasses." But while Babylon is thus "covered with the multitude of waves, and the waters come upon it;" yet, in striking contrast and seeming contradiction to such a feature of desolation, (like the formation of "pools of water," from the "casting up of heaps,") are the elevated sunburnt ruins, which the waters do not overflow, are the "dry waste" and "parched and burning plain," on which the heaps of Babylon lie, equally prove that it is "a desert, a dry land, and a wilderness." One part, even on the western side of the river, is "low and marshy, and another," says Mignan, "an arid desert."

Many other striking particulars might be collected; and we may conclude in the words of Mr. Keith, from whose work on the prophecies several of the above particulars have been extracted:— "Is it possible that there can be any attestation of the truth of prophecy, if it be not witnessed here? Is there any spot on earth which has undergone a more complete transformation?

‘The records of the human race,' it has been said with truth, ‘do not present a contrast more striking than that between the primeval magnificence of Babylon and its long desolation.' Its ruins have of late been carefully and scrupulously examined by different natives of Britain, of unimpeached veracity; and the result of every research is a more striking demonstration of the literal accomplishment of every prediction. How few spots are there on earth of which we have so clear and faithful a picture as prophecy gave to fallen Babylon at a time when no spot on earth resembled it less than its present desolate solitary site! or could any prophecies respecting any single place have been more precise, or wonderful, or numerous, or true, or more gradually accomplished throughout many generations? And when they look at what Babylon was, and what it is, and perceive the minute realization of them all, may not nations learn wisdom, may not tyrants tremble, and may not skeptics think?"

The reasons why prophecies so numerous and particular were recorded concerning Babylon, appear to have been,

1. That Babylon was the great oppressor of the Jews.

2. That it was the type of all the powerful persecuting enemies of the church of God, especially of Rome; and in its fate they may read their own.

3. That the accomplishment of prophecy in the destruction of so eminent an empire might give a solemn testimony to the truth of the Scriptures to the whole earth, and to all ages.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [3]

Nimrod's BABELwas doubtless in some way connected with the renowned city ofBabylon and of the kingdom of which it was the capital. The Hebrew is Babel, the same for Babel and Babylon. In   Genesis 11:2 , it speaks of Babel being built in a plain in the land of Shinar, whichthey reached by travellingfrom the east; this reads in the margin travelling 'eastward,' a reading preferred by many and by the Revisers. This direction agrees well with the locality of Babylon on the river Euphrates.

Historians speak of the great size of the city, though they are not agreed as to its dimensions. It had 25 gates on each side, and from the gates were streets which crossed one another at right angles. The houses were not built close together, so that there was ample room inside the city for gardens and even fields and vineyards. The walls were said to be 75 feet thick and 300 feet in height; and the gates were of brass. The river Euphrates ran through the city; but on the banks of the river strong walls were built with gates of brass; there was also a bridge from side to side near the centre of the city. A lake was formed outside the city into which the waters of the rivercould be turned when the water rose too high, and deep ditches filled with water surrounded the walls of the city.

We also read of 'hanging gardens' which Nebuchadnezzar built for his wife Amyitis, or Amyhia, daughter of a Median king,to give the place a measure of resemblance to the mountains and wooded hills of her native country. These gardens are supposed to have been built in terraces of different heights.

In several particulars scripture corroborates the statements of the historians. In  Jeremiah 50:11 of Babylon it is said, 'O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;' its broad walls are mentioned,   Jeremiah 51:12,58; its gates of brass and bars of iron,  Isaiah 45:2; and Nebuchadnezzar boasted of the 'great Babylon' which he had built by the might of his power and for the honour of his majesty.  Daniel 4:30 .

Among the relies recovered from the various mounds of ruins are some bricks with the names of the kings Neriglissar and Labynetus stamped upon them, but the great majority of those found bear the name of Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon was built with bricks, there being no stone at all near, and in later years the mounds were ransacked for bricks for other cities.

Of the early governments in Babylon but little is known with certainty. Berosus, as arranged by Rawlinson, gives from B.C. 2458 to 625 various dynasties of Medes, Chaldaeans, Arabs, and Assyrians; and lastly Babylonians from B.C. 625 to 538.

Babylon and Assyria are much blended together in history, sometimes being independent one of the other, and at other times being tributary to one another. In B.C. 745 Tiglath-pileser may be said to have founded the later kingdom of Assyria, and among his victories he became master of Babylonia, as the kingdom of Babylon was called. About 721Merodachbaladan became king of Babylon, and in 712 he sent ambassadors to Hezekiah on hearing of his sickness. This is recorded in  2 Kings 20:12 , where he is called Berodach-baladan. In B.C. 702Sennacherib king of Assyria expelled Merodach, and Babylon was governed by viceroys from Assyria. In B.C. 681Esar-haddon became king of Assyria but held his court at Babylon, to which place Manasseh king of Judah was carried prisoner about B.C. 677.  2 Chronicles 33:11 . About B.C. 625 Nabo-polassar revolted from the king of Assyria and established the later kingdom of Babylon. He with Cyaxares (the Ahasuerus of  Daniel 9:1 ) founder of the Median kingdom, attacked and took Nineveh, and put an end to the Assyrian rule. Nebuchadnezzar, co-regent with Nabo-polassar, took Jerusalem, and carried many captives and the holy vessels to Babylon, about B.C. 606. In B.C. 604Nabo-polassar died and Nebuchadnezzar reigned alone. In B.C. 603Jehoiakim revolted and in 599 Nebuchadnezzar again took Jerusalem, and Ezekiel was carried to Babylon: this is called the great captivity.  2 Kings 24:1-16 . Mattaniah was left as king in Jerusalem, his name being changed to Zedekiah: he reigned 11 years.  2 Kings 24:17-20 . Having rebelled against Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, after a siege of eighteen months, once more took Jerusalem, destroyed the city and burnt the house of the Lord, bringing the kingdom of Judah to an end: B.C. 588.  2 Kings 25:1-26 . For the personal history of the king see NEBUCHADNEZZAR. In B.C. 561Nebuchadnezzar died. He was the 'head of gold' in Daniel's great image. The glory of the later Babylonian Empire virtually began and ended with him. The succession of kings was somewhat as follows:

Kings Of Babylon


625 Nabo-polassar.

606 Nebuchadnezzar, co-regent.

604 Nabo-polassar dies. Nebuchadnezzar reigns alone.

561 Evil-Merodach succeeds. He raises up Jehoiachin in the 37th year of his captivity.

 2 Kings 25:27 .

559 Neriglissar succeeds. Perhaps the same as one of the princes called Nergal-sharezer in

 Jeremiah 39:3,13 .

556 Laborosoarchod succeeds. Reigned 9 months and is slain.

555 Nabonidus or Nabonadius (also called Labynetus), a usurper : Belshazzar his son

afterwards reigning with him.

538 Babylon taken, and Belshazzar slain. End of the Empire of Babylon.

Babylon has a large place in the O.T. with reference to its intercourse with Israel, in nearly every chapter of Jeremiah, from 20 - 52, Babylon is mentioned. Babylon is also of note as being the first of the four great empires prophesied of by Daniel. The kingdom of the Lord, established in the house of David, and maintained in Judah, had for the time come to an end because of iniquity, and the 'times of the Gentiles' had begun.* Of Nebuchadnezzar it was said, "Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength and glory . . . . Thou art this head of gold."  Daniel 2:37,38 . Babylon was God's instrument by which Judah was punished; and then because of the pride and wickedness of the king of Babylon he also was brought under the rod of the Almighty.

* The times of the Gentiles will end when the power returns to Judah, the house of David, in the person of the Lord Jesus.

The destruction of Babylon was fully foretold in scripture, though some of these prophecies may refer also to still future events, namely, the overthrow by the Lord (typified by Cyrus) of the last holder of Nebuchadnezzar-like authority, namely, the beast, the last head of the revived Roman empire.  Isaiah 13:6-22;  Isaiah 14:4-23;  Isaiah 21:2-9;  Isaiah 47:1-11;  Jeremiah 25:12-14 and   Jeremiah 50,51 . Its downfall was unexpected. For 24 years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar Babylon continued the seat of the imperial court. In B.C. 538 the city was taken in a remarkable way. A night was chosen when the inhabitants were about to hold a festival, when the whole city would be given up to drunkenness and debauchery. The water of the river was diverted from its bed so as to render it shallow enough to let the troops pass along. The gates were found open, and the city was taken.

This also was prophesied of in scripture: it specifies that Cyrus was God's shepherd, and He had holden him to subdue nations: God would loose the loins of kings to open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates should not be shut: the gates of brass should be broken, and the bars of iron be cut asunder.  Isaiah 45:1,2 . Again the suddenness and unexpectedness of the attack is also mentioned: "evil shall come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know."  Isaiah 47:11 . We also find that it was on the night of the revelry of Belshazzar's feast that the king was slain.  Daniel 5:30 .

The monuments show that Babylon was taken by Gobryas the general of Cyrus, and that the capture of the city was, as some think, aided by treachery among its inhabitants.  Daniel 5:31 says, "Darius the Median took the kingdom." This king has not been found mentioned by name on the monuments, but he is well accredited as king in Daniel. He was probably ASTYAGES, who was a Median king. He had been conquered by Cyrus, who may have found it to his advantage to let him reign at Babylon as long as he lived. Astyages being a Mede and Cyrus a Persian agree with the second great empire being called by the two names. Persia gained the ascendancy, and Babylon was a royal residence during part of the year. There were occasional revolts, in the putting down of which the city was more and more destroyed. In the year B.C. 478 Xerxes returning from his inglorious invasion of Greece passed through the city, robbed the temple of Belus of its wealth and left its lofty towers a heap of ruins. In B.C. 324Alexander the Great attempted to rebuild that edifice, and employed 10,000 men; but his sudden death, before the ruins had been cleared away, left it still in desolation.

Scripture is very decisive as to the utter destruction of the city: "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there: but wild beasts of the desert shall lie there, and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces."  Isaiah 13:19-22 .

Now vast mounds extend for miles. If Hillah (about 44 25' E 32 27' N ) be taken as a centre, the mounds extend northward about 3 miles. About 6 miles S.W. of Hillah stands the celebrated heap known as Birs Nimrood, supposed to be the site of the ancient temple of Belus. There are three large piles on the east of the river: the Mujelibe or Mukallibe, the Kasr or palace, and the Amran.

The moral features of Babylon were idolatrous corruption and worldliness, which will be seen in full manifestation in Babylon the Great. It is the place where the people of God get into captivity through dalliance with the world.

In the N.T. Babylon is mentioned in  1 Peter 5:13 . There is evidence in Josephus that there were many Jews in the district forty years after Christ. On the occasion of the gathering at Jerusalem in  Acts 2:9-11 mention is made of the Parthians, Medes and Elamites; and when Peter commences his epistle, supposing he was in the district of Babylon, he naturally puts Pontus first and then passes on to Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. There can be no reason therefore to doubt that the ancient district of Babylon is alluded to by Peter, where, through God's grace, there were some of the 'elect.'

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Jeremiah 51:7

Origin Information about Babylon's origin has been lost in antiquity, but it did not rank among the leading Mesopotamian cities before 3000 B.C., such as Erech, Kish, Nippur, Ur, Sippar, or Akkad. Among such great cities it alone bore a Semitic name. Such names first appeared near 2200 B.C. It became a provincial and cult center, later to become the grand capital of the eighteenth century B.C. King Hammurabi. Thereafter, it remained a great center of culture and religion. It was sacked in 689 B.C. by the Assyrian King Sennacherib, who destroyed much of it. Later, Babylonian kings aligned themselves with the Medes to conquer Assyria in 612 B.C., and then the Neo-Babylonian rulers dedicated themselves to reconstructing Babylon's ancient temples and walls. Its main significance lies in these times. Due largely to Sennacherib's deliberate destruction of the city, very little of pre-Sargonid Babylon (before 721 B.C.) remained. Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal, and Nabopolassar undertook a rebuilding, but Nebuchadrezzar II (605-562 B.C.) brought Babylon to her glory, making it “the Palace of Heaven and Earth, the Seat of Kingship.” His work appears everywhere, so with justification the author of  Daniel 4:30 could attribute to this king, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” Cyrus the Persian took Babylon in 539 B.C. and permanently ended her dominance in Near Eastern affairs, but later in the time of Alexander the Great (c. 330 B.C.) some great structures of old Babylon were still wonders.

Location Traditionally, a mound called Babil, near the Euphrates River and some six miles northeast of Hillah (southwest of Iraq's capital city Baghdad), has been identified as the location of ancient Babylon. However, the city's location proved to be represented by a number of mounds downstream on the Euphrates 1 1/2-2 1/2 miles south of Babil, the main ones being Qasr, Amran ibn Ali, Merkes, and Homera.

Archaeology Regrettably, the ruins of Babylon have long served as a quarry for building materials. Before 1811, the few antiquities coming from Babylon were mostly surface finds recovered casually or by random digging by the natives. The first planned and organized excavation came in 1811 with C. J. Rich making a careful survey and hiring ten men to aid him in exploration at Babil and Qasr. A second visit followed in 1817.

Babylon was one of a number of Mesopotamian sites excavated seriously from 1842 onwards. A.H. Layard was prevented by national disturbances from opening more than a few trial trenches in 1850 at Babil, Qasr, and Amran ibn Ali. Between 1852-1854 the Frenchmen F. Fresnel and J. Oppert achieved very little. For 45 years nothing of real value was undertaken. The major excavations of ancient Babylon began in 1899 led by the German architect Robert Koldewey and lasted year-round until 1917 when British occupation caused cessation of his projected labors far from their completion.

Ancient Babylon was divided in two by the Euphrates river. The eastern section with the “Summer Palace” to the north was enclosed by a triangular defensive system of walls running over eight miles from the Euphrates about one and one half miles north of the city southeast to turn southwest to rejoin the river about 750 feet south of the city. Nebuchadnezzar first built this awesome defense network.

In reality this outer wall system involved three walls. The innermost, about 22 feet thick, was made of sun-dried mud-brick. Beyond this by 39 feet was a second slightly thicker wall of baked bricks. Outside this wall was another some 10 feet thick of baked bricks forming the scarp of a moat perhaps as wide as 330 feet. Evidence of projecting towers was found at regular intervals along the inner wall, but no such indication remains for the outer one although there probably were towers there as well. The space between the walls was filled with rubble, perhaps for a base for a protected roadway wide enough to allow Herodotus' “four-horse chariot to turn around.”

Just inside the outer wall system at the north and along the Euphrates was the mound Babil, some 1 1/2-2 1/2 miles north of the other mounds. It covered Nebuchadrezzar's “Summer Palace,” and perhaps the Bit Akitu, the Temple of the New York Festival.

Sprawling ancient Babylon covered an area of nearly 1000 acres, making it the largest ancient settlement in Mesopotamia, some fifteen percent larger than Nineveh. According to records, it contained 1,179 temples of varying sizes. Its normal population was near 100,000, but the walls could have sheltered at least 250,000 persons. The area east of the river comprised the city's older section where most excavations were carried out and where most of the principal buildings were located. The smaller western area constituted Babylon's “new” city about which little is known.

Greater Babylon, excluding its western suburb, was a triangular fortified island with one-third of its area being an inner, elaborately defended fortress which contained the royal palace, the ziggurat, the temple of Marduk, and a vast residential area.

Processional Way Access to the city was provided by ramps bridging the moat and by eight gates named after gods in the inner walls. The streets of the magnificent city layout were roughly parallel to the river, meeting others at right angles and terminating in great bronze gates. Ancient Babylon's most famous street was the Processional Way, Aibur-shabu (“the enemy shall never pass”) along which the images of the gods were transported from the Euphrates into Babylon during the New Year Festival. Perhaps  Isaiah 46:1 satirizes such a procession involving the god Marduk and his son Nabu. From the Euphrates along this street the distance was about 2000 feet to the northern side of the rectangular wall system.

The magnificent and 63-foot wide Aibur-shabu gently sloped upwards as it led southward toward the city walls. The east 225 feet of the roadway outside the city walls lay between two thick walls hardly less impressive than the gate itself. The eastern wall was that of the Northern Fortress (sometimes called the Museum because of finds there) and the eastern that of the eastern outer bastion. Each of these walls was lined with 60 lions, symbols of Ishtar, molded of bricks of blue ceramic and having red or yellow manes.

The Processional Way passed through the most famous of the city gates, the Ishtar Gate. Its original height was some 70 feet and had an arched opening 15 feet wide. On the earlier gate are still visible alternate rows of some 150 bulls and dragons, symbols of Adad and Marduk, in plain molded bricks. The latest gate was colorfully decorated with similar animals, now of bricks glazed a vivid blue with the animals alternately yellow and white. Inside the gate the Processional Way, sloping downward, extends some 4000 feet southward to turn west between the ziggurat enclosure and the Marduk temple toward the Euphrates bridge built by either Nabopolassar or his son Nebuchadnezzar.

Babylon's principal palace was on the right upon passing through the Ishtar Gate, lying between a canal at its south and the city walls at its north. Its dimensions were expansive, 1020 feet east to west and 660 feet north to south. In it was the king's throne room, perhaps the scene of Belshazzar's feast and the death of Alexander the Great. On the west Nebuchadnezzar built a huge fortified citadel which was 85 feet thick, apparently to keep out dampness from the adjacent river. In this palace the excavators found an underground “crypt” consisting of a series of 14 vaulted rooms surrounded by a mysteriously thick wall, the vaults clearly constructed as supports for an enormous weight. Nearby was a unique water system with three shafts tied together in a manner suggesting a hydraulic lifting system with an endless chain of buckets drawn up in continuous rotation. These may be the remains of the famous Hanging Gardens. Here the four clay tablets were found listing the rations of grain and oil for King Jehoiachin of Judah and his sons. Across the road from this Southern Palace was the temple of the mother-goddess Ninmakh.

Babylon's most significant temple was Esagila (“The Temple that raises it head”), the home of the city god Marduk. Located about five-eights of a mile south of the royal palaces, its paved floor had inscriptions stating that it had been laid by the Assyrian Kings Ashurbanipal and Esarhaddon. Esagila was surrounded by an enclosure of about 1410 by 720 feet which, according to cuneiform documents, housed more than 50 other temples and shrines, many of which have been excavated. Jeremiah's comment on Babylon is remembered: “It is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols ( Jeremiah 50:38 ). Over 6,000 figures were uncovered, and ten street altars were found from the period from Esarhaddon to Nabonidus (681-539 B.C.) In addition to the temples there were “300 daises of the Igigi gods and 1200 daises of the Anunanki gods,” as well as “180 open-air shrines for Ishtar” and 200 places for other deities.

Adjacent to Esagila was the great staged tower or ziggurat named Etemenanki, “the foundation house of heaven and earth.” It was of considerable age, but first mention of it is in the 7th century B.C. It has been plundered for building materials in more recent times, but it was partially dismantled near the end of the fourth century B.C. by Alexander the Great to prepare for a proposed building. It measured about 298 feet square at the base and rose in seven stages to at least a height of 200 feet. The inner core of unbaked bricks was enclosed in a shell of baked bricks 49 feet thick. This was apparently the model for the “Tower of Babel.” On its southern side a triple flight of steps led to the second story, the rest of the tower being ascended by means of ramps. On the top was a shrine called sahuru in which rested a bed on which a god was thought to lie at times with a native woman.

Karen Joines

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

1. A celebrated city situated on the Euphrates, the original foundation of which is described under the word Babel. Wit this coincide many ancient traditions, while some speak of Semiramis as the founder, and others of Nebuchadnezzar. These accounts may all be reconciled, by supposing that Semiramis rebuilt the ancient city, and the Nebuchadnezzar. These accounts may all be reconciled, by supposing that Semiramis rebuilt the ancient city, and that Nebuchadnezzar afterwards greatly enlarged and adorned it.

Babylon lay in a vast and fertile plain watered by the Euphrates, with flowed through the city. Its walls are described as 60 miles in circumference, 300 feet high, and 75 feet wide,  Jeremiah 51:44 -  58 . A deep trench ran parallel with the walls. In each of the four sides were 25 brazen gates, from which roads crossed to the opposite gates. On the squares thus formed countless houses and gardens were made. Nebuchadnezzar's palace was in an inclosure six miles in circumference. Within this were also "the hanging gardens," an immense artificial mound 400 feet high, sustained by archers upon arches, terraced off for trees and flowers, the water for which was drawn from the river by machinery concealed in the mound,  Daniel 4:29,30 .

Under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon reached the summit of her greatness and splendor. She was renowned for learning especially in astronomy, and for skill in various arts, as the making of carpets and cloths, of perfumes, jewelry, etc. Her location gave her to a great extent the control of the traffic, by the Euphrates and by caravans, between Central Asia and Arabia and Egypt. She was "a city of merchants,"  Isaiah 43:14   Ezekiel 17:4; and into her lap flowed, either through conquest or commerce, the wealth of almost all known lands. Justly therefore might the prophets call her "the great,"  Daniel 4:20; "the praise of the whole earth,"  Jeremiah 51:41; "the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency,"  Isaiah 13:19; "the lady of kingdoms,"  Isaiah 47:5; but also "the tender and delicate," and "given to pleasures,"  Isaiah 47:1,8 . In consequence of the opulence and luxury of the inhabitants, corruptness and licentiousness of manners and morals were carried to a frightful extreme. Bel, Nebo, Nergal, Merodach, Succoth-benoth, and other idols, were there worshipped with rites in which impurity was made a matter of religion. Well might we expect Jehovah to bring down vengeance on her crimes. Indeed, the woes denounced against Babylon by the prophets constitute some of the most awfully splendid and sublime portions of the whole Bible,  Isaiah 13:1-22   14:22   21:9   47:1-15   Jeremiah 25:1-38   50:1-46   51:1-64 , etc.

The city did not long remain the capital of the world. Under the reign of Nebuchadnezzar's grandson. Nabonnidus, the Belshazzar of the Scriptures, it was besieged and taken by Cyrus. The accounts of Greek historians harmonize here with that of the Bible: that Cyrus made his successful assault on a night when the whole city, relying on the strength of the walls, had given themselves up to the riot and debauchery of a grand public festival, and the king and his nobles were reveling at a splendid entertainment. Cyrus had previously caused a canal, which ran west of the city, and carried off the superfluous water of the Euphrates into the lake of Nitocris, to be cleared out, in order to turn the river into it; which, by this means, was rendered so shallow, that his soldiers were able to penetrate along its bed into the city,  Daniel 5:1-31 .  538 B.C. From this time its importance declined, for Cyrus made Susa the capital of his kingdom. It revolted against Darius Hystapis, who again subdued it, broke down all its gates, and reduced its walls to the height of fifty cubits. According to Strabo, Xerxes destroyed the tower of Belus. Under the Persians, and under Alexander's successors, Babylon continued to decline, especially after Seleucus Nicator had founded Selencia, and made it his residence. A great portion of the inhabitants of Babylon removed thither; and in Strabo's time, that is, under Augustus Babylon had become so desolate, that it might be called a vast desert. There was a town on its site until the fourth century, and many Jews dwelt there,   1 Peter 5:13 . But from this time onward, Babylon ceases almost to be mentioned; even its ruins have not been discovered until within the last two centuries; and it is only within the present century that these ruins have been traced and described. These consist of numerous mounds, usually of brick, deeply furrowed and decayed by time, strewn with fragments of brick, bitumen, pottery, etc. One of these is described above. See  Isaiah 13:14 .

The name of Babylon is used symbolically in  Revelation 14:8   16:1-21   17:1-18   18:1-24 , to mark the idolatry, superstition, lewdness luxury, and persecution of the people of God, which characterized heathen Rome and modern Antichrist. Some thus interpret  1 Peter 5:13   2 . There was also a Babylon in Egypt, a city not far from Heliopolis. Some suppose this to be the Babylon mentioned  1 Peter 5:13; but this is not probable.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Babylon ( Băb'By-Lon ), Greek form of Babel. The noted capital of the Chaldæan and Babylonian empires, situated on both sides of the Euphrates river, about 200 miles above its junction with the Tigris, 300 miles from the Persian Gulf. The valley is broad, and the river Euphrates is now about 600 feet wide and 18 feet deep at this place. Babylon, according to Herodotus, was a vast square on both sides of the Euphrates, enclosed by a double line of walls, about 56 miles in circuit and including about 200 square miles. Ctesias and others make the circuit about 42 miles, enclosing about 106 square miles. The walls, according to Herodotus, were about 335 feet high and 75 feet broad. Ctesias, quoted by Diodorus, states that they were 200 feet high and built by 2,000,000 men. Later writers, regarding these measurements as incredible, give the circuit of the walls at about 40 miles, their height at 75 to 190 feet, and their width at 32 feet, or wide enough to allow four chariots to drive abreast on the top. M. Oppert and Rawlinson, as explorers, hold that the ruins warrant the statement of Herodotus as to the extent of Babylon. The wall of Babylon was surmounted by 250 towers, and it had 100 gates of brass.  Jeremiah 51:58;  Isaiah 45:2. Babylon is described as cut into squares—some say 676—by straight streets crossing each other at right angles, those at the river being closed by brazen gates, as the banks of the river were fortified by high walk; the river was crossed by drawbridges and lined with quays; the two palaces on opposite sides of the river were connected by a bridge, and also by a tunnel under the river. Among the wonderful buildings were: 1. Nebuchadnezzar's palace, an immense pile of buildings, believed to be nearly six miles in circumference. 2. The hanging-gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world, built by Nebuchadnezzar to please his Median queen, Amytis, who longed for her native mountains. These gardens were 75 feet high and covered three and a half acres, enclosed in an area of larger extent, some say 1000 feet on each side. Upon this mountain was soil of depth to support the largest trees, and the water was drawn up from the river by means of a screw. 3. The temple of Belus, a vast pyramid or tower, 600 feet square, having eight stages or stories, and according to Rawlinson 480 feet high, with a winding ascent passing around it, and a chapel of a god at the top. Babylon is named over 250 times in the Bible. It was founded by Nimrod,  Genesis 10:10; its builders were dispersed,  Genesis 11:9. Then, except some allusion to Shinar,  Genesis 14:1, the Chaldæans,  Job 1:17, and the Babylonish garment (R. V. "mantle"),  Joshua 7:21, it drops out of Scripture history until the era of the captivity. It was often subject to Assyria,  2 Chronicles 33:11, and was the residence of at least one Assyrian king. After the fall of Nineveh, b.c. 625, it became an independent kingdom, and under Nebuchadnezzar was enlarged, beautified, and reached the height of its magnificence. In  Isaiah 13:19;  Isaiah 14:4, it is called "the glory of kingdoms," "the golden city," and in  Jeremiah 51:41 "the praise of the whole earth," etc. It was the home of the chief of the captive Jews.  Daniel 1:1-4. Its desolation was frequently foretold.  Isaiah 13:4-22;  Jeremiah 25:12;  Jeremiah 50:2-3;  Jeremiah 51:1-64;  Daniel 2:31-38;  Habakkuk 1:5-10. Even before Babylon reached the summit of its glory, Isaiah prophesied: "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation; neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there; but wild beasts of the desert shall lie there."  Isaiah 13:19-22;  Isaiah 14:22. This prophecy has been literally fulfilled. It describes Babylon as it has been for many centuries and is now. Cyrus took it; Darius afterwards rifled it; Xerxes stripped its temples; and Alexander died in attempting its restoration. The modern town of Hillah now occupies a portion of the space covered by the ruins of ancient Babylon, and a telegraph connects it with the city of Bagdad. See Chaldæa and Assyria.

Babylon, in  Revelation 14:8;  Revelation 16:19;  Revelation 17:5;  Revelation 18:2;  Revelation 18:21, is a symbolical name for heathen Rome, which took the place of ancient Babylon as a persecuting power. This is also the sense given to Babylon in  1 Peter 5:13 by the fathers and many commentators; but others refer it to Babylon in Asia, since it is quite possible that Peter labored for a while in that city, where there was at that time a large Jewish colony; still others maintain that Babylon in Egypt, now called Old Cairo, is meant.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [7]

BABYLON . Bâbel is the Hebrew form of the native name Bâb-ili , ‘Gate of God.’ It was also Tin-tir or ‘Seat of life,’ and E or E-ki . It is likely that these names once denoted separate towns gradually incorporated. Other quarters of Babylon were Shu-anna, Tç, Shuppatu, and Litamu. According to the Heb. tradition (  Genesis 10:10 ), it was as old as Erech, Akkad, and Calneh. Native tradition makes it as old as Erech and Nippur, the latter being proved by excavations to date back to prehistoric times. Babylon is from Bâb-ilani . It lay on the E. bank of the Euphrates, part of its site being now occupied by Hillah, about 50 miles S. of Baghdad. The ruins extend for 5 miles N. to S. Bâbil, the N. ruin, covers 120,000 sq. ft. and is still 90 ft. high. It covers the remains of the celebrated Esagila temple. The Mujellibeh is not much less in area, and 28 ft. high.

The Kasr contains the ruins of Nebuchadrezzar’s palace, along whose E. side ran the sacred procession street, decorated with enamelled tiles representing the dragon and the re’çm , to the Istar-gate at the S.E. corner. The whole was enclosed within an irregular triangle, formed by two lines of ramparts and the river, an area of about 8 sq. miles. The city crossed the river to the W., where are remains of a palace of Neriglissar. In later times it became coterminous with many other large cities, and Herodotus ascribes to it a circuit of 55 miles. The German excavations now being carried on may be expected to solve the many problems connected with the site.

From the very earliest times the kings and rulers of Babylonia worked at the building of its temples, palaces, walls, bridges, quays, etc. Hammurabi first raised it to be the capital of all Babylonia. It was sacked by Sennacherib in b.c. 689, the chief palaces, temples, and city walls levelled with the ground, and the waters of the Euphrates turned over it. Esarhaddon began to rebuild it, and it stood another long siege under his son, Ashurbanipal. Nabopolassar began its restoration; Nebuchadrezzar raised it to its height of glory. Cyrus took it without resistance, and held his court there. Darius Hystaspis besieged, took it, and destroyed its walls. Xerxes plundered it. Alexander the Great planned to restore it. Antiochus Soter actually began the restoration of its great temple. The foundation of Seleucia robbed it of its population, but the temple services continued to b.c. 29, at least. See, further, Assyria and Babylonia.

C. H. W. Johns.

BABYLON (in NT). Babylon was apparently used by the early Church as a symbol for Rome. 1 . In Rev. (  Revelation 14:8;   Revelation 16:19;   Revelation 17:5;   Revelation 18:2;   Revelation 18:10;   Revelation 18:21 ) its destruction is foretold, because of its sins, and particularly because of its persecution. Such identification is, however, somewhat uncertain, and rests ultimately on the Improbability that the word in the connexion in which it appears can refer to the city of Mesopotamia (the word is so used in   Matthew 1:11;   Matthew 12:17 ,   Acts 7:43 ). This basal probability is supported by the fact that Babylon is called ‘mystery’ in   Revelation 17:5 , is said to be seated on seven mountains (  Revelation 17:9 ), and to be a centre of commerce and authority (  Revelation 18:3-19;   Revelation 18:17;   Revelation 14:8 ). Rome is apparently called Babylon in Sib. Or . V. 143, 158; 2 Es.; Apoc. [Note: Apocalypse, Apocalyptic.] Baruch.

This identification of Babylon in Revelation with Rome dates at least from the time of Jerome. The attempt to identify it with an apostate Judah and Jerusalem can hardly be taken seriously. The fact that Revelation utilized the Jewish apocalyptic material further makes it imperative that the term symbolize a power which stood related both to Christians and Jews, in a way parallel with the relation of Babylon to the ancient Hebrew nation.

2 . The reference to Babylon in   1 Peter 5:13 has had three interpretations: ( a ) Babylon in Egypt, mentioned by Strabo and Epiphanius; ( b ) Babylon on the Euphrates; and ( c ) Rome. In view of the symbolic use of the word ‘Babylon,’ as mentioned in the foregoing, the last seems the most probable. Eusebius ( HE ii. 15) so interprets the reference, and, in view of the ancient and persistent tradition, there is nothing improbable in St. Peter’s having been in Rome. This probability is strengthened by the reference to the persecution to which Christians were being subjected. Assyrian Babylon in the second half of the 1st elm was in decay, and 1Peter would be particularly appropriate if sent out from the seat of a persecution, such as that of Nero, or possibly of Domitian.

Shailer Mathews.

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology [8]

Capital of the Neo-Babylon Empire of the mid-first millennium b.c. Babylon has both a historic role and a theological role in the Bible. Certain themes become associated with it. In the Book of Revelation, these themes culminate in the image of the whore of Babylon. As a result of this biblical imagery, Babylon has transcended its historical significance to become synonymous with sin and pride in Western art and literature.

Babylon first appears in the Bible under the guise of the tower of Babel ( Genesis 11 ). The Hebrew word for "confused" in verse 9 is babal , which sounds like babel [בָּבֶל] (Babylon). The great evil of the tower builders is their sinful pride against the rule of God. This theme will reappear in the prophetic writings against the city.

During the reign of Hezekiah, envoys from Babylon came to Jerusalem ( 2 Kings 20:12-19 ). The prophet Isaiah chastised the king for showing off the treasures of Judah and predicted that Babylon would some day carry these riches off. This was a startling revelation, for Assyria was the great power of the day and seemingly unassailable. The visit was probably an attempt by Babylon to foment problems for Assyria in the west, thereby diverting attention from Babylon. The postexilic reader would have seen the roots of the destruction of Jerusalem in the foolish pride of Hezekiah and in the greed of Babylon.

The prophets describe Babylon as a city of pride and idolatry. Yet the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon presents the prophets with a dilemma. If God is sovereign and makes use of Babylon to punish Judah, can Babylon—as a tool in the hand of its Masterbe blamed for its behavior? Isaiah addresses this problem by portraying Babylon as a woman, the queen of kingdoms (47:5), who should be tender and delicate but is not. God gave his people over into her power, but rather than caring for them she has shown them no mercy. This is a result of her overweening pride, evidenced in her statement that "I am, and there is none besides me" (v. 8). Although the conquest of Jerusalem is in keeping with the will of God, the brutality and greed of the conquerorsthe fruit of Babylon's idolatry and failure to recognize the kingship of Godare not. Because of Babylon's pride, she will be destroyed.  Psalm 137 personifies Babylon as a woman who is doomed to destruction and whose infant children will be savagely killed.

Jeremiah sees the future destruction of Babylon as a punishment because the Babylonians rejoiced at the destruction of Judah and ruthlessly plundered the people of God (50:11). Babylon herself will become a "heap of ruins" (51:37). Daniel reinforces the picture of Babylon as full of pride and defiance toward God. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is punished with madness because he denied God's control over "Babylon the Great" (4:30).

Centuries after the destruction of the Neo-Babylonian state by Cyrus of Persia, Babylon reappears in a dramatic role in the Book of Revelationa role marked by numerous references to Old Testament imagery. Pride, idolatry, cruelty, and greed are associated with the city.

The dominant image of Babylon in Revelation is the city's personification of a rich woman, the "mother of prostitutes" (17:5). Babylon is a great city that rules over the earth.

Babylon, the historic oppressor of God's people, represents the new oppressor of Christ's church. Like the Mesopotamian city, the "great city" (Rome) will be judged and will become a desolate wilderness. The metaphor extends beyond the physical Rome to the entire world, "intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries" (17:2). The people of God, however, will be delivered from the grasp of the prophetic Babylon just as Ezekiel foretold for the exiles held captive in the historic Babylon.

Thomas W. Davis

Bibliography . J. M. Ford, Revelation  ; R. E. Clemens, Jeremiah  ; G. E. Wright, The Book of Jonah .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

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;  Jeremiah 25:12;  50:2,3;  Daniel 2:31-38 ).

The Babylon mentioned in  1 Peter 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   Revelation 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).

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [10]

This eminent city, which was once the most noble and magnificent in the whole earth, the capital of the Chaldean empire: and concerning which the Scriptures themselves speak so highly, (See  Daniel 4:30) is now so totally overthrown, that not a vestige remains. By Isaiah the prophet, the Lord declared this ruin, ( Isaiah 13:19 to the end;) ( Isaiah 13:19-22) and every traveller that hath seen the ground it stood on confirms it. The approach to the ruins, on account of the venomous creatures which inhabit it, is so dangerous, that no man durst venture, and many parts for ages have not been explored. Who that considers this, and connects with it what the prophets declared concerning it, years before the event took place, but must be struck with wonder and praise! I beg the reader to look again at Isaiah's prophecy, chap. 13:19 to the end. ( Isaiah 13:19-22) And when the reader hath duly pondered the subject, concerning the natural history of Babylon, thus desolated as the enemy of Christ and his church; he will do well to consider the subject in the spiritual sense of it, according to what the Scriptures have declared of mystical Babylon. Let him turn to the Revelations of John, and hear what the Spirit saith, concerning the awful close to all the enemies of Christ and his church. (See  Revelation 17:1-18 and  Revelation 18:1-24)

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [11]

 Jeremiah 50:14 (b) Throughout chapters  50,51of this book, the actual city of Babylon is directly in view, but what is said about that city indicates clearly that it refers to the great religions and idolatries of the world which seek to depose GOD and enthrone their own philosophies. This is particularly true of  Jeremiah 51:6 and  Jeremiah 51:8 which evidently refer to the same situation that we find in the New Testament.

 Revelation 17:5 (b) This is plainly a type of the great false religious systems of the world, particularly Romanism, which knew nothing of the grace of GOD, nor the Blood of Christ nor the personal ministry of the Holy Spirit. It refers to those religious sects and heresies which deny the faith of our fathers, and reject the truth of GOD. This Babylon is represented as a woman.

 Revelation 18:2 (b) As in the above Scripture we see the religious side of false religions So in this verse we find the political aspect of those great apostate religions, the political religious world. Under this description we see the wickedness of the merchants, the politics of the church, and the filthiness of her society which are all to be brought under the judgment of GOD. We should note that in  Revelation 18:13, the last two items of merchandise of this great apostate religious group consists of slaves (bodies and souls of men). This is particularly true of the Romish church, whose members are slaves in body, soul and spirit to their religious leaders. This Babylon is described as a city in  Revelation 18:16.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [12]

Bab'ylon. Babylon, in the Apocalypse, is the symbolical name by which Rome is denoted.  Revelation 14:8;  Revelation 17:18. The power of Rome was regarded by the later Jews as was that of Babylon by their forefathers. Compare  Jeremiah 51:7 with  Revelation 14:8.

The occurrence of this name in  1 Peter 5:13 has given rise to a variety of conjectures, many giving it the same meaning as in the Apocalypse; others refer it to Babylon in Asia, and others still to Babylon in Egypt. The most natural supposition of all is that by Babylon is intended the old Babylon of Assyria, which was largely inhabited by Jews at the time in question.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [13]

See Apocalypse and Peter, First Epistle of.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [14]

(See Babel .)

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Bab´ylon; the name in Hebrew is Babel, from the confusion of tongues ( Genesis 11:1-9). In  Daniel 4:27 the place is appropriately termed 'Babylon the Great.' This famous city was the metropolis of the province of Babylon and of the Babyionio-Chaldean Empire. It was situated in a wide plain on the Euphrates, which divided it into two nearly equal parts. According to the book of Genesis, its foundations were laid at the same time with those of the tower of Babel. In the revolutions of centuries it underwent many changes, and received successive reparations and additions. Semiramis and Nebuchadnezzar are those to whom the city was indebted for its greatest augmentations and its chief splendor. Its site has been ascertained to be near Hillah, about forty miles from Bagdad.

According to Herodotus, the walls of Babylon were sixty miles in circumference, built of large bricks cemented together with bitumen, and raised round the city in the form of an exact square; hence they measured fifteen miles along each face. They were87 feet thick and 350 feet high protected on the outside by a vast ditch lined with the same material, and proportioned in depth and width to the elevation of the walls. The city was entered by twenty-five gates on each side, made of solid brass, and additionally strengthened by 250 towers, so placed that between every two gates were four towers, and four additional ones at the four corners. The whole city contained 676 squares, each two miles and a quarter in circumference. The river ran through the city from north to south; and on each side was a quay of the same thickness as the walls of the city, and 100 stadia in length. In these quays were gates of brass, and from each of them steps descending into the river. A bridge was thrown across the river, of great beauty and admirable contrivance, a furlong in length and 30 feet in breadth. The greatest circumference ascribed by the ancients to the city walls is 480 stadia, the most moderate 360. The smallest computation supposes an area for the city of which we can now scarcely form an idea. Its population however may not have been in proportion to its extent. The place was probably what in these days would be considered an enclosed district rather than a compact city.

One or two additional facts may aid in conveying a full idea of this great and magnificent-city. When Cyrus took Babylon by turning the Euphrates into a neighboring lake, the dwellers in the middle of the place were not for some time aware that their fellow-townsmen who were near the walls had been captured. From the fallen towers of Babylon have arisen not only all the present cities in its vicinity, but others which, like itself, have long since gone down into the dust. Since the days of Alexander four capitals, at least, have been built out of its remains—Seleucia by the Greeks, Ctesiphon by the Parthians, Al Maidan by the Persians, and Kufa by the Caliphs; with towns, villages, and caravansaries without number. The necessary fragments and materials were transported along the rivers and the canals. The new palace built by Nebuchadnezzar was prodigious in size and superb in embellishments. Its outer wall embraced six miles; within that circumference were two other embattled walls, besides a great tower. Three brazen gates led into the grand area, and every gate of consequence throughout the city was of brass.

The palace was splendidly decorated with statues of men and animals, with vessels of gold and silver, and furnished with luxuries of all kinds brought thither from conquests in Egypt, Palestine, and Tyre. Its greatest boast were the hanging gardens. They are attributed to the gallantry of Nebuchadnezzar, who constructed them in compliance with a wish of his queen Amytis to possess elevated groves such as she had enjoyed on the hills around her native Ecbatana. Babylon was all flat; and to accomplish so extravagant a desire an artificial mountain was reared, 400 feet on each side, while terraces one above another rose to a height that over-lapped the walls of the city, that is, above 300 feet in elevation. The ascent from terrace to terrace was made by corresponding flights of steps. The level of each terrace or garden was then formed in the following manner: the top of the piers was first laid over with flat stones, 16 feet in length and 4 feet in width; on these stones were spread beds of matting, then a thick layer of bitumen; after which came two courses of bricks, which were covered with sheets of solid lead. The earth was heaped on this platform; and in order to admit the roots of large trees, prodigious hollow piers were built and filled with mould. From the Euphrates, which flowed close to the foundation, water was drawn up by machinery. The whole had, to those who saw it from a distance, the appearance of woods overhanging mountains. Such was the completion of Nebuchadnezzar's work, when he found himself at rest in his house, and flourished in his palace. The king spoke and said, 'Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and the honor of my majesty' ( Daniel 4:30). Nowhere could the king have taken so comprehensive a view of the city he had so magnificently constructed and adorned as when walking on the highest terrace of the gardens of his palace.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [16]

(Hebrews and Chald. Babel', בָּבֶל , Gr. Βαβυλών ), the name of more than one city in the Scriptures and other ancient writings. (See Babel).

I. Originally the capital of the country called in Genesis Shinar ( שַׁנַעָר ), and in the later Scriptures Chaldaea, or the land of the Chaldeans ( כִּשְׂדַּים ). See those articles severally.

1 . The Name. The word Babel seems to be connected in its first occurrence with the Hebrew root בָּלִל , balal', "to confound" (as if by contraction from the reduplicated form בִּלְבֶּל , Balbel'), "because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth" ( Genesis 11:9); but the native etymology (see the Koran, 2, 66) is Bab-Il, "the gate of the god Il," or perhaps more simply "the gate of God;" and this no doubt was the original intention of the appellation as given by Nimrod, though the other sense came to be attached to it after the confusion of tongues (see Eichhorn, Biblioth. d. bibl. Lit. 3, 1001). Another derivation deduces the word from בִּאב בֵּל , "the court or city of Belus" (see Abulfeda in Rosenm Ü ller, Alterth. 2, 60), or בִּראּבֵּל (= בַּיר ), Bel'S Hill (Furst, Hebrews Handw. s.v.). A still different etymology is proposed by Tuch (Genesis p. 276), from בֵּית בֵּל , "the house of Bel." Whichever of these etymologies may be regarded as the preferable one, the name was doubtless understood or accommodated by the sacred writer in Genesis so as to be expressive of the disaster that soon befell the founders of the place. In the Bible at a later date the place is appropriately termed "Babylon the Great" ( בָּבֶל הָרְחָבָה ,  Jeremiah 51:58; בָּבֶל רִבּשׁתָא ,  Daniel 4:27), and by Josephus also (Ant. 8, 6, 1, Μεγάλη Βαβυλών ). The name Babylon is likewise that by which it is constantly denominated in the Sept. and later versions, as well as by the Apocrypha ( 1 Maccabees 6:4; Susann. 1:5) and New Test. ( Acts 7:43), and finally by the ancient Greek and Roman writers (see Smith, Diet. of Class. Geogr. s.v.). On the outlandish name Shesh ik ( שֵׁשִׁךְ ), applied to it in  Jeremiah 25:26;  Jeremiah 51:41, see the various conjectures in Rosenm Ü ller, Alterth. 1, 2, 50 sq. The Jews believe it is a cabalistic mode of writing by the method known as "Athbash" (q.v.). (See Shishak). The word "Babel," besides its original application to the tower ( Genesis 11:9), and its usual one (in the original) to the city of Babylon, is also occasionally applied to the whole district of Chaldea, coincident with the plain of Shinar ( Isaiah 14:2), as well as to Babylonia, the province of the Assyrian empire of which it was the metropolis ( 2 Chronicles 32:31;  2 Chronicles 33:11), and eventually to Persia itself ( Ezra 5:13;  Nehemiah 13:6). (See Nineveh).

2. Origin And Growth Of The City. This famous city was the metropolis of the province of Babylon and of the Babylonio-Chaldaean empire. It was situated in a wide plain on the Euphrates, which divided it into two nearly equal parts. According to the book of Genesis, its foundations were laid at the same time with those of the Tower of Babel. In the revolutions of centuries it underwent many changes, and received successive reparations and additions. The ancients were not agreed as to the authors or times of these, and any attempt to determine them now with strict accuracy must be fruitless. Semiramis and Nebuchadnezzar are those to whom the city was indebted for its greatest augmentations and its chief splendor. Probably a temple was the first building raised by the primitive nomades, and in the gate of this temple justice would be administered in early times (comp.  2 Samuel 19:8), after which houses would grow up about the gate, and in this way the name would readily pass from the actual portal of the temple to the settlement. According to the traditions which the Greeks derived from the Babylonians in Alexander's age, the city was originally built about the year B.C. 2230. The architectural remains discovered in southern Babylonia, taken in conjunction with the monumental records, seem to indicate that it was not at first the capital, nor, indeed, a town of very great importance. It probably owed its position at the head of Nimrod's cities ( Genesis 10:10) to the power and pre-eminence to which it afterward attained rather than to any original superiority that it could boast over the places coupled' with it. Erech, Ur, and Ellasar appear to have been all more ancient than Babylon, and were capital cities when Babil was a provincial village. The first rise of the Chaldaean power was in the region close upon the Persian Gulf, as Berosus indicated by his fish-god Oannes, who brought the Babylonians civilization and the arts out of the sea (ap. Syncell. p. 28, B). Thence the nation spread northward up the course of the rivers, and the seat of government moved in the same direction, being finally fixed at Babylon, perhaps not earlier than B.C. 1700. See ASSYRIA.

3. Its Fall And Subsequent Condition. Under Nabonnadus, the last king, B.C. 538, Babylon was taken by Cyrus, after a siege of two years, in the dead of the night. Having first, by means of its canals, turned the river into the great dry lake west of Babylon, and then marched through the emptied channel, he made his way to the outer walls of the fortified palace on its banks, when, finding the brazen gates incautiously left open by the royal guards while engaged in carousals, he entered with all his train; " the Lord of Hosts was his leader," and Babylon, as an empire, was no more. An insurrection, under Darius Hystaspis (B.C. 500), the object of which was to gain emancipation' from Persian bondage, led that prince to punish the Babylonians by throwing down the walls and gates which had been left by Cyrus, and by expelling them from their homes. Xerxes plundered and destroyed' the temple of Belus, which Alexander the Great would probably, but for his death, have restored. Under Seleucus Nicator the city began to sink speedily, after that monarch built Seleucia on the Tigris, and made it his place of abode. In the time of Strabo and Diodorus Siculus the place lay in ruins. Jerome, in the fourth century of the Christian era, learned that the site of Babylon had been converted into a park or hunting-ground for the recreation of the Persian monarchs, and that, in order to preserve the game, the walls had been from time to time repaired. If the following extract from Rich (p. 30) is compared with these historical facts, the prophecy of Isaiah ( Isaiah 13:19) will appear to have been strikingly fulfilled to the letter: "I had always imagined the belief of the existence of satyrs was confined to the mythology of the West; but a choadar who was with me when I examined this ruin (the Mujelibeh) mentioned that in this desert an animal is found resembling a man from the head to the waist, but having the thighs and legs of a sheep or goat; he also said that the Arabs hunt it with dogs, and eat the lower parts, abstaining from the upper, on account of their resemblance to those of the human species." More thorough destruction than that which has overtaken Babylon cannot well be conceived. Rich was unable to discover any traces of its vast walls, and even its site has been a subject of dispute. "On its ruins," says he, "there is not a single tree growing, except an old one," which only serves to make the desolation more apparent. Ruins like those of Babylon, composed of rubbish impregnated with nitre, cannot be cultivated. For a more detailed account of the history of Babylon, see the article (See Babylonia).

4. Ancient Descriptions. The statements respecting the topography and appearance of Babylon which have come down to us in classical writers are derived chiefly from two sources, the works of Herodotus and of Ctesias. These authors were both of them eyewitnesses of the glories of Babylon not, indeed, at their highest point, but before they had greatly declined and left accounts of the city and its chief buildings, which the historians and geographers of later times were, for the most part, content to copy. To these accounts are to be added various other details by Quintus Curtius, and Pliny, and a few notices by other ancient visitors.

According to the account of Herodotus (1, 178-186) the walls of Babylon were double, the outer line being 56 miles in circumference, built of large bricks cemented together with bitumen, and raised round the city in the form of an exact square; hence they measured 14 miles along each face. They were 87 feet thick and 350 feet high (Quintus Curtius says four horse-chariots could pass each other on them without danger), protected on the outside by a vast ditch lined with the same material, and proportioned in depth and width to the elevation of the walls. The city was entered by twenty-five gates on each side, made of solid brass, and additionally strengthened by 250 towers, so placed that between every two gates were four towers, and four additional ones at the four corners. From all the gates proceeded streets running in straight lines, each street being nearly fifteen miles in length, fifty in number, and crossing each other at right angles. Other minor divisions occurred, and the whole city contained 676 squares, each about two miles and a quarter in circumference. Herodotus appears to imply that this whole space was covered with houses, which, he observes, were frequently three or four stories high. The river ran through the city from north to south, and on each side was a quay of the same thickness as the walls of the city, and 100 stadia in length. In these quays were gates of brass, and from each of them steps descending into the river. A bridge was thrown across the river, of great beauty and admirable contrivance, a furlong in length and 30 feet in breadth. As the Euphrates overflows during the summer months, through the melting of the snows on the mountains of Armenia, two canals were cut to turn the course of the waters into the Tigris, and vast artificial embankments were raised on each side of the river. On the western side of the city an immense lake, forty miles square, was excavated to the depth, according to Herodotus, of 35 feet, and into this lake the river was turned till the work was completed. At each end of the bridge was a palace, and these had a subterraneous communication. In each division of the town, Herodotus says, there was a fortress or stronghold, consisting in the one case of the royal palace, in the other of the great temple of Belus. This last was a species of pyramid, composed of eight square towers placed one above the other, the dimensions of the basement tower being a stade or above 200 yards each way. The height of the temple is not mentioned by Herodotus. A winding ascent, which passed round all the towers, led to the summit, on which was placed a spacious ark or chapel, containing no statue, but regarded by the natives as the habitation of the god. The temple stood in a sacred precinct, two stades (or 400 yards) square, which contained two altars for burntofferings and a sacred ark or chapel, wherein was the golden image of Bel.

According to Ctesias (ap. Diod. Sic. 2, 7 sq.), the circult of the city was a little under 42 miles. It lay, he says, on both sides of the Euphrates, and the two parts were connected together by a stone bridge above 1000 yards long, and 30 feet broad, of the kind described by Herodotus. At either extremity of the bridge was a royal palace, that in the eastern city being the most magnificent of the two. It was defended by a triple enceinte, the outermost 7 miles round; the second, which was circular, 4.5 miles; and the third 2.25 miles. The height of the second or middle wall was 300 feet, and its towers were 420 feet. The elevation of the innermost circuit was even greater than this. The walls of both the second and the third enclosure were made of colored brick, and represented hunting scenes the chase of the leopard and the lion with figures, male and female, regarded by Ctesias as those of Ninus and Semiramis. The other palace was inferior both in size and magnificence. It was enclosed within a single enceinte 3.5 miles in circumference, and contained representations of hunting and battle scenes, as well as statues in bronze, said to be those of Ninus, Semiramis, and Jupiter Belus. The two palaces were joined, not only by the bridge, but by a tunnel under the river. Ctesias' account of the temple of Belus has not come down to us. We may gather, however, that he represented its general character in much the same way as Herodotus, but spoke of it as surmounted by three statues, one of Bel, 40 feet high, another of Rhea, and a third of Juno or Beltis.

The account given by Quintus Curtius (v. 1) of the entrance of Alexander into Babylon may serve to enliven the narrative, and, at the same time, make the impression on the reader's mind more distinct. "A great part of the inhabitants of Babylon stood on the walls, eager to catch a sight of their new monarch. Many went forth to meet him. Among these, Bagophanes, keeper of the citadel and of the royal treasure, strewed the entire way before the king with flowers and crowns; silver altars were also placed on both sides of the road, which were loaded not merely with frankincense, but all kinds of odoriferous herbs. He brought with him for Alexander gifts of various kinds flocks of sheep and horses; lions also and panthers were carried before him in their dens. The magi came next, singing, in their usual manner, their ancient hymns. After them came the Chaldaeans, with their musical instruments, who are not only the prophets of the Babylonians, but their artists. The first are wont to sing the praises of the kings; the Chaldaeans teach the motions of the stars and the periodic vicissitudes of the times and seasons. Then followed, last of all, the Babylonian knights, whose equipment, as well as that of their horses, seemed designed more for luxury than magnificence. The king, Alexander, attended by armed men, having ordered the crowd of the towns-people to proceed in the rear of his infantry, entered the city in a chariot and repaired to the palace. The next day he carefully surveyed the household treasure of Darius, and all his money. For the rest, the beauty of the city and its age turned the eyes not only of the king, but of every one, on itself, and that with good reason." Within a brief period after this Alexander lay a corpse in the palace.

One or two additional facts may aid in conveying a full idea of this great and magnificent city. When Cyrus took Babylon by turning the Euphrates into a neighboring lake, the dwellers in the middle of the place were not for some time aware that their fellow-townsmen who were near the walls had been captured. This, says Herodotus (i. 191), was owing to the magnitude of the city, and to the circumstance that at the time the inhabitants were engaged in carousals, it being a festive occasion. Nor, according to Xenophon, did the citizens of the opposite quarter learn the event till three hours after sunrise, the city having been taken in the night. Alexander had to employ 10,000 men during two months to remove the accumulated ruins precipitated by order of Xerxes nearly 200 years before. From the fallen towers of Babylon have arisen not only all the present cities in its vicinity, but others which, like itself, have long since gone down into the dust. Since the days of Alexander, four capitals, at least, have been built out of its remains: Seleucia, by the Greeks; Ctesiphon, by the Parthians; Al Maidan, by the Persians; and Kufa, by the caliphs; with towns, villages, and caravansaries without number. The necessary fragments and materials were transported along the rivers and the canals. The antiquity of the canals of Babylonia dates from the most remote periods of the Chaldaeo-Babylonian monarchy. The ancient kings of Assyria and Babylonia rwell understood the value of canals, and their empire arose upon alluvial plains, amid a system of irrigation and draining which spread like a net-work over the land. It may be sufficient to specify the Nahr Malikah, or Royal Canal, the origin of which has been referred both to Nimrod and Cush. Abydenus, however, attributes it to Nebuchadnezzar. From the account of Herodotus, it appears to have been of sufficient breadth and depth to be navigable for merchant vessels. It is not, therefore, surprising that some writers have considered it as the ancient bed of the Euphrates. The soil around Babylon is of a light, yielding nature, easily wrought for canals and other purposes, whether of art or war. Cyrus, therefore, would find no great difficulty in digging a trench about the city sufficient to contain the waters of the river (Cyrop. 7). Alexander (Strabo, 16, p. 510), in enlarging one of the canals and forming basins for his fleet, laid open the graves of many buried kings and princes, which shows how readily the soil yields and gives way before the labors of man.

The new palace built by Nebuchadnezzar was prodigious in size and superb in embellishments. Its outer wall embraced six miles; within that circumference were two other embattled walls, besides a great tower. Three brazen gates led into the grand area, and every gate of consequence throughout the city was of brass. In accordance with this fact are the terms which Isaiah ( Isaiah 45:1-2) employs when, in the name of Jehovah, he promises Cyrus that the city should fall before him: "I will open before him the two-leaved gates; I will break in pieces the gates of brass;" a prophecy which was fulfilled to the letter when Cyrus made himself master of the place. The palace was splendidly decorated with statues of men and animals, with vessels of gold and silver, and furnished with luxuries of all kinds brought thither from conquests in Egypt, Palestine, and Tyre. Its greatest boast were the hanging gardens, which acquired even from Grecian writers the appellation of one of the wonders of the world. They are attributed to the gallantry of Nebuchadnezzar, who constructed them in compliance with a wish of his queen Amytis to possess elevated groves such as she had enjoyed on the hills around her native Ecbatana. Babylon was all flat; and to accomplish so extravagant a desire, an artificial mountain was reared, 400 feet on each side, while terraces one above another rose to a height that overtopped the walls of the city, that is, above 300 feet in elevation. The ascent from terrace to terrace was made by corresponding flights of steps, while the terraces themselves were reared to their various stages on ranges of regular piers, which, forming a kind of vaulting, rose in succession one over the other td the required height of each terrace, the whole being bound together by a wall of 22 feet in thickness. The level of each terrace or garden was then formed in the following manner: the top of the piers was first laid over with flat stones, 16 feet in length and 4 feet in width; on these stones were spread beds of matting, then a thick layer of bitumen; after which came two courses of bricks, which were covered with sheets of solid lead. The earth was heaped on this platform; and in order to admit the roots of large trees, prodigious hollow piers were built and filled with mould. From the Euphrates, which flowed close to the foundation, water was drawn up by machinery. The whole, says Q. Curtius (v. 5), had, to those who saw it from a distance, the appearance of woods overhanging mountains. Such was the completion of Nebuchadnezzar's work, when he found himself at rest in his house, and flourished in his palace: The king spoke and said, "Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power and the honor of my majesty" (Daniel 4), a picture which is amply justified by the descriptions of heathen writers. Nowhere could the king have taken so comprehensive a view of the city he had so magnificently constructed and adorned as when walking on the highest terrace of the gardens of his palace.

Babylon, as the center of a great kingdom, was the seat of boundless luxury, and its inhabitants were notorious for their addiction to self- indulgence and effeminacy. Q. Curtius (v. 1) asserts that "nothing could be more corrupt than its morals, nothing more fitted to excite and allure to immoderate pleasures. The rites of hospitality were polluted by the grossest and most shameless lusts. Money dissolved every tie, whether of kindred, respect, or esteem. The Babylonians were very greatly given to wine and the enjoyments which accompany inebriety. Women were present at their convivialities, first with some degree of propriety, but, growing worse and worse and worse by degrees, they ended by throwing off at once their modesty and their clothing." Once in her life, according to(Herodotus (1, 199), every native female was obliged to visit the temple of Mylitta, the Babylonian Astarte (q.v.) or Venus, and there receive the embraces of the first stranger who threw a piece of money into her lap; an abominable custom, that is alluded to in the Apocrypha ( Baruch 6:43) and by Strabo (vi. 1058). On the ground of their awful wickedness, the Babylonians were threatened with condign punishment, through the mouths of the prophets; and the tyranny with which the rulers of the city exercised their sway was not without a decided effect in bringing on them the terrific consequences of the Divine vengeance. Nor in the whole range of literature is there any thing to be found approaching to the sublimity, force, and terror with which Isaiah and others speak on this painful subject ( Isaiah 14:11;  Isaiah 47:1;  Jeremiah 51:39;  Daniel 5:1). Babylon even stands, therefore, in the New Test. ( Revelation 17:5) as the type of the most shameless profligacy and idolatry.

5 . Investigation Of The Ancient Topography. In examining the truth of these descriptions, we shall most conveniently commence from the outer circuit of the town. All the ancient writers appear to agree in the fact of a district of vast size, more or less inhabited, having been enclosed within lofty walls, and included under the name of Babylon. With respect to the exact extent of the circuit they differ. The estimate of Herodotus and of Pliny ''(H. N'' 6, 26) is 480 stades, of Strabo (16, 1:5) 385, of Q. Curtius (v, 1:26) 368, of Clitarchus (ap. Diod. Sic. 2:7) 365, and of Ctesias (ap. eund.) 360 stades. It is evident that here we have merely the moderate variations to be expected in independent measurements, except in the first of the numbers. Setting this aside, the difference between the greatest and the least of the estimates is little more than one half per cent. With this near agreement on the part of so many authors, it is the more surprising that in the remaining case we should find the great difference of one third more, or 33.333 per cent. Perhaps the true explanation is that Herodotus spoke of the outer wall, which could be traced in his time, while the later writers, who never speak of an inner and an outer barrier, give the measurement of Herodotus's inner wall, which may have alone remained in their day. This is the opinion of M. Oppert, who even believes that he has found traces of both enclosures, showing them to have been really of the size ascribed to them. This conclusion is at present disputed, and it is the more general belief of those who have examined the ruins with attention that no vestiges of the ancient walls are to be found, or, at least, that none have as yet been discovered. Still it is impossible to doubt that a line of wall inclosing an enormous area originally existed. The testimony to this effect is too strong to be set aside, and the disappearance of the wall is easily accounted for, either by the constant quarrying, which would naturally have commenced with it (Rich, First .Mem. p. 44), or by the subsidence of the bulwark into the moat from which it was raised. Taking the lowest estimate of the extent of the circuit, we shall have for the space within the rampart an area of above 100 square miles-nearly five times the size of London. It is evident that this vast space cannot have been entirely covered with houses. Diodorus confesses (2, 9, adfin.) that but a small part of the enclosure was inhabited in his own day, and Q. Curtius (5, 1:27) says that as much as nine tenths consisted, even in the most flourishing times, of gardens, parks, paradises, fields, and orchards.

With regard to the height and breadth of the walls there is nearly as much difference of statement as with regard to their extent. Herodotus makes the height 200 royal cubits, or 337.5 feet; Ctesias, 50 fathoms, or 300 feet; Pliny and Solinus, 200 royal feet; Strabo, 50 cubits, or 75 feet. Here there is less appearance of independent measurements than in the estimates of length. The two original statements seem to be those of Herodotus and Ctesias, which only differ accidentally, the latter having omitted to notice that the royal scale was used. The later writers do not possess fresh data; they merely soften down what seems to them an exaggeration-Pliny and Solinus changing the cubits of Herodotus into feet, and Strabo the fathoms of Ctesias into cubits. We are forced, then, to fall back on the earlier authorities, who are also the only eye-witnesses; and, surprising as it seems, perhaps we must believe the statement that the vast enclosed space above mentioned was surrounded by walls which have well been termed "artificial mountains," being nearly the height of the dome of St. Paul's (see Grote's Greece, 3, 397; and, on the other side, Mure's Lit. of Greece, 4, 546). The ruined wall of Nineveh was, it must be remembered, in Xenophon's time. 150 feet high (Anab. 3, 4, 10), and another wall which he passed in Mesopotamia was 100 feet (ib. 2, 4, 12).

The estimates for the thickness of the wall are the following: Herodotus, 50 royal cubits, or nearly 85 feet; Pliny and Solinus, 50 royal, or about 60 common feet; and Strabo, 32 feet. Here again Pliny and Solinus have merely softened down Herodotus; Strabo, however, has a new number. This may belong properly to the inner wall, which, Herodotus remarks (1, 181), was of less thickness than the outer.

According to Ctesias, the wall was strengthened with 250 towers, irregularly disposed, to guard the weakest parts (Diod. Sic. 2:7); and, according to Herodotus, it was pierced with a hundred gates, which were made of brass, with brazen lintels and side-posts (1, 179). The gates and walls are alike mentioned in Scripture, the height of the one and the breadth of the other being specially noticed ( Jeremiah 51:58; comp. 1, 15, and 51:53).

Herodotus and Ctesias both relate that the banks of the river, as it flowed through the city, were on each side ornamented with quays. The stream has probably often changed its course since the time of Babylonian greatness, but some remains of a quay or embankment on the eastern side of the stream still exist, upon the bricks of which is read the name of the last king. The two writers also agree as to the existence of a bridge, and describe it very similarly. Perhaps a remarkable mound which interrupts the long flat valley evidently the ancient course of the river closing in the principal ruins on the west, may be a trace of this structure.

6. Present Character And Extent Of The Ruins Of Babylon. The locality and principal structures of this once famous city are now almost universally admitted to be indicated by the remarkable remains near the modern village of Hillah, which lies on the W. bank of the Euphrates, about 50 miles directly S. of Bagdad.

About five miles above Hillah, on the opposite bank of the Euphrates, occur a series of artificial mounds of enormous size, which have been recognized in all ages as probably indicating the site of the capital of southern Mesopotamia. They consist chiefly of three great masses of building the high pile of unbaked brickwork called by Rich "Mujellibe," but which is known to the Arabs as "Babil;" the building denominated the

Kasr" or palace; and a lofty mound upon which stands the modern tomb of Amran ibn-Alb (Loftus's Chaldea, p. 17). Besides these principal masses the most remarkable features are two parallel lines of rampart bounding the chief ruins on the east, some similar but inferior remains on the north and west, an embankment along the river side, a remarkable isolated heap in the middle of a long valley, which seems to have been the ancient bed of the stream, and two long lines of rampart, meeting at a right angle, and with the river forming an irregular triangle, within which all the ruins on this side (except Babil) are enclosed. On the west, or right bank, the remains are very slight and scanty. There is the appearance of an enclosure, and of a building of moderate size within it, nearly opposite the great mound of Amran, but otherwise, unless at a long distance from the stream, this side of the Euphrates is absolutely bare of ruins. (See Rawlinson's Herodotus, 2, 473).

Scattered over the country on both sides of the Euphrates, and reducible to no regular plan, are a number of remarkable mounds, usually standing single, which are plainly of the same date with the great mass of ruins upon the river bank. Of these by far the most striking is the vast ruin called the Birs Nimrud, which many regard as the Tower of Babel, situated about six miles to the S.W. of Hillah, and almost that distance from the Euphrates at the nearest point. This is a pyramidical mound, crowned apparently by the ruins of a tower, rising to the height of 1531 feet above the level of the plain, and in circumference somewhat more than 2000 feet. (See Babel (Tower Of).) There is considerable reason to believe from the inscriptions discovered on the spot, and from other documents of the time of Nebuchadnezzar, that it marks the site of Borsippa, and may thus have been beyond the limits of Babylon (Beros. Fr. 14).

7. Identification Of Sites. On comparing the existing ruins with the accounts of the ancient writers, the great difficulty which meets us is the position of the remains almost exclusively on the left bank of the river. All the old accounts agree in representing the Euphrates as running through the town, and the principal buildings as placed on the opposite sides of the stream. In explanation of this difficulty, it has been urged, on the one hand, that the Euphrates, having a tendency to run off to the right, has obliterated all trace of the buildings in this direction (Layard's Nin. and Bab. p. 420); on the other, that, by a due extension of the area of Babylon, it may be made to include the Birs Nimrud, and that thus the chief existing remains will really lie on the opposite banks of the river (Rich, Second Memoir, p. 32; Ker Porter, Travels, 2, 383). But the identification of the Birs with Borsippa seems to interfere with this latter theory; while the former is unsatisfactory, since we can scarcely suppose the abrasion of the river to have entirely removed all trace of such gigantic buildings as those which the ancient writers describe. Perhaps the most probable solution is to be found in the fact that a large canal (called Shebil) intervened in ancient times between the Kasr mound and the ruin now called Babil, which may easily have been confounded by Herodotus with the main stream. This would have had the two principal buildings upon opposite sides; while the real river, which ran down the long valley to the west of the Kasr and Amran mounds, would also have separated (as Ctesias related) between the greater and the lesser palace. If this explanation be accepted as probable, we may identify the principal ruins as follows:

1. The great mound of Babil will be the ancient temple of Belus. It is an oblong mass, composed chiefly of unbaked brick, rising from the plain to the height of 140 feet, flattish at the top, in length about 200, and in breadth about 140 yards. This oblong shape is common to the temples, or rather temple-towers of Lower Babylonia, which seem to have had nearly the same proportions. It was originally coated with fine burnt brick laid in an excellent mortar, as was proved by Mr. Layard (Nin. And Bab. p. 452); and was, no doubt, built in stages, most of which have crumbled down, but which may still be in part concealed under the rubbish. The statement of Berosus (Fragm. 14), that it was rebuilt by Nebuchadnezzar, is confirmed by the fact that all the inscribed bricks which have been found in it bear the name of that king. It formed the tower of the temple, and was surmounted by a chapel; but the main shrine, the altars, and no doubt the residences of the priests, were at the foot, in a sacred precinct.

2. The mound of the Kasr will mark the site of the great palace of Nebuchadnezzar. It is an irregular square of about 700 yards each way, and may be regarded as chiefly formed of the old palace platform (which resembles those at Nineveh, Susa, and elsewhere), upon which are still standing certain portions of the ancient residences to which the name of "Kasr" or "palace" especially attaches. The walls are composed of burnt bricks, of a pale yellow color, and of excellent quality, bound together by a fine lime cement, and stamped with the name and titles of Nebuchadnezzar. They contain traces of architectural ornament piers, buttresses, pilasters, etc.; and in the rubbish at their base have been found slabs inscribed by Nebuchadnezzar, and containing an account of the building of the edifice, as well as a few sculptured fragments, and many pieces of enamelled brick of brilliant hues. On these last portions of figures are traceable, recalling the statements of Ctesias (ap. Diodor. Sicul.) that the brick walls of the palace were colored, and represented hunting-scenes. No plan of the palace is to be made out from the existing remains, which are tossed in apparent confusion on the highest point of the mound.

3. The mound of Armran is thought by M. Oppert to represent the "hanging gardens" of Nebuchadnezzar; but this conjecture does not seem to be a very happy one. The mound is composed of poorer materials than the edifices of that prince, and has furnished no bricks containing his name. Again, it is far too lar

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [17]

The capital city of Babylonia, one of the richest and most magnificent cities of the East, the gigantic walls and hanging gardens of which were classed among the seven wonders of the world; was taken, according to tradition, by Cyrus in 538 B.C., by diverting out of their channel the waters of the Euphrates, which flowed through it and by Darius in 519 B.C., through the self-sacrifice of Zophyrus. The name was often metaphorically applied to Rome by the early Christians, and is to-day to great centres of population, such as London, where the overcrowding, the accumulation of material wealth, and the so-called refinements of civilisation, are conceived to have a corrupting effect on the religion and morals of the inhabitants.