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People's Dictionary of the Bible

Babylon

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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.


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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Babylon'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/rpd/b/babylon.html. 1893.

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