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Babylon - A Great City Of Antiquity

By James Donahue

The great City of Babylon, long an important center of government and commerce within the ancient Mesopotamian Empire, now where Iraq and Iran are located, has remained an important reference point within both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

The city appears as the seat of great kings who decided the fate of the Hebrew people, and in the Book of the Revelation, emerges as a possible part of prophecy depicting the end times.

Revelation's disturbing eighteenth chapter warns that "her plagues will come in one day, pestilence, grief, and famine, she will be consumed by fire. . . In one hour this great wealth has been ruined."

Some Bible scholars believe the reference suggests that the City of Babylon must be rebuilt and rise to its realm of commercial importance once again before this event can occur. We have suggested in other writings that the center of commerce now has a new name . . . New York . . .and that the assault on this place began with the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001.

When we perceive of the Bible as a political and religious propaganda work, directed too depict the Jewish people as a chosen people of God, we also can see that book at a twisted version of Jewish history and misshapen look of prophetic events.

The origins of Babylon are so ancient that the story of the city's founding may never be known. Archaeological digs have determined that a temple of some kind once stood on this site as early as 2,200 BC.

The Old Testament stories also describe the construction of the Tower of Babel, possibly a ziggurat, or stepped pyramid like the stone structures found throughout the region. The remains of a ziggurat have been found in the ruins of Babylon, located not far from where Baghdad stands today.

While the Bible story refers to the word Babel as meaning "confusion" after all of the people involved were magically dispersed into the world by God speaking different languages, the real meaning of Babylon was "gateway of the gods."

Babylon rose to prominence in 1792 BC after King Hammurabi rose to power over the ancient Empire of Mesopotamia. This king ruled for 42 years and issued a famous code of laws for the management of the empire. The city reached its ultimate glory under the reign of Naboplashar (625-605 BC).

His son, King Nebuchadnezzar II, is the ruler who had a major impact on the Hebrew stories in the Old Testament. He also is credited for building the legendary Hanging Gardens, once described as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Historians and archaeologists now question if such gardens ever existed. There is no reference to them in the descriptive writings on clay tablets found from that period, and archaeologists find no evidence of them in the ruins.

What is known about the culture of that period, however, is that it was highly advanced in literature, science and the arts. There were advances in medicine, chemistry, alchemy, botany, zoology, mathematics and astronomy. Records were kept on cuneiform symbols on wet clay tablets that were baked in the sun.

Babylon lasted for well over 2000 years but then fell to ruin after the city was sacked by the Persians in 539. After that the city was captured by Alexander the Great, who planned to return Babylon to its former glory, but died before his dream could be finalized. The city slowly fell into ruin over the centuries as it lost its importance and its population.

Of interesting note: the late Saddam Hussein was keenly interested in the ruins of Babylon, had invested in turning the area into a historical visitation center, and even referred to himself as Nebuchadnezzar II.