Lagash Rations Tablet
The striding lion of Babylon was made of molded brick with polychrome glaze and appeared along the side of the 'Processional Way' in ancient Babylon in 604-562 B.C.
This cuneiform tablet reveals how the ancient Babylonians wrote. It was discovered among the 30,000 or more cuneiform tablets at the site of ancient Lagash, one of the oldest cities in ancient Sumer and later became part of Babylonia. According to scholars some believe that Lagash was the largest city in the world during the third millennium BC. Cuneiform was the script of the Sumerians and all the other inhabitants of Mesopotamia all the way up to the first century BC. The name cuneiform comes from the Latin word "cuneus", meaning wedge. Cuneiform was originally written with a reed or stick stylus but this was quickly developed into a precision tool. We have derived virtually all our knowledge of the Babylonians from texts written in cuneiform on clay tablets. From these tablets we have been able to learn their law, business, administration, religion and all other aspects of Babylonian civilization. Without these texts we would know little about the Babylonians. The Lagash Rations Tablet is important in the study of Biblical Archaeology because it shows us a clear text written in ancient cuneiform script.
"For I will rise up against them," says the LORD of hosts, "And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity," says the LORD. "I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," says the LORD of hosts. Isaiah 14:22-23
"Is this not Babylon that I have built…" –Daniel 4:30
Material - Cuneiform tablet
1st Dynasty of Lagash
Date: 2350-2200 BC
Height: 13.1 cm
Width: 13.3 cm
Tello (ancient Girsu), southern Iraq
Location: British Museum, London
Item: ANE 102081
Room: 55, Early Mesopotamia
British Museum Excerpt
Cuneiform tablet recording barley
1st Dynasty of Lagash, about 2350-2200 BC
From Tello (ancient Girsu), southern Iraq
Payment by the temple of the goddess Bau
This cuneiform tablet is a record in Sumerian of the distribution of barley as rations to about two hundred workmen and their children by the Temple of Bau. The goddess Bau (or Baba) was the wife of Ningirsu, the supreme god of the city Lagash. The temple referred to here was at Girsu, a town within the city-state of Lagash.
Temples were the largest employers at this time, often with hundreds of workers farming the land or weaving textiles. The text tells us that adults received a ration of thirty or forty sila (pints) per month, while children got twenty. According to the text, this was the fourth such distribution in the fourth year of Uruinimgina, king of Lagash (reigned about 2351-2342 BC). His wife Shasha played a major role in the administration of the Temple of Bau.
The British Museum
Ancient Lagash. Lagash (Sumerian: Lagaški; cuneiform logogram: LAKI "storehouse;"[Akkadian: Nakamtu] modern Tell al-Hiba, (Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq) is located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about 22 kilometres (14 mi) east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East. The ancient site of Surghul/Nina is around 6 miles (9.7 km) away. Nearby Girsu, about 25 km (16 mi) northwest of Al-Hiba, was the religious center of the Lagash state. Lagash's temple was E-Ninnu, dedicated to the god Ningirsu. [Wikipedia]
Archaeology of Ancient Lagash. Lagash is one of the largest archaeological mounds in the region, measuring roughly 2 by 1 miles (3.2 by 1.6 km). Estimates of its area range from 400 to 600 hectares (990 to 1,500 acres). The site is divided by the bed of a canal/river, which runs diagonally through the mound. The site was first excavated, for six weeks, by Robert Koldewey in 1887. It was inspected during a survey of the area by Thorkild Jacobsen and Fuad Safar in 1953, finding the first evidence of its identification as Lagash. The major polity in the region of al-Hiba and Tello had formerly been identified as ŠIR.BUR.LA (Shirpurla). Tell Al-Hiba was again explored in five seasons of excavation between 1968 and 1976 by a team from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. The team was led by Vaughn E. Crawford, and included Donald P. Hansen and Robert D. Biggs. The primary focus was the excavation of the temple Ibgal of Inanna and the temple Bagara of Ningirsu, as well as an associated administrative area.The team returned 12 years later in 1990 for a final season of excavation led by D. P. Hansen. The work primarily involved areas adjacent to an as yet unexcavated temple. The results of this season have apparently not yet been published. [Wikipedia]
History of Ancient Lagash. From inscriptions found at Girsu such as the Gudea cylinders, it appears that Lagash was an important Sumerian city in the late 3rd millennium BC. It was at that time ruled by independent kings, Ur-Nanshe (24th century BC) and his successors, who were engaged in contests with the Elamites on the east and the kings of "Kiengir" and Kish on the north. Some of the earlier works from before the Akkadian conquest are also extremely interesting, in particular Eannatum's Stele of the Vultures and Entemena's great silver vase ornamented with Ningirsu's sacred animal Anzu: a lion-headed eagle with wings outspread, grasping a lion in each talon. With the Akkadian conquest Lagash lost its independence, its ruler or ensi becoming a vassal of Sargon of Akkad and his successors; but Lagash continued to be a city of much importance and above all, a centre of artistic development. After the collapse of Sargon's state, Lagash again thrived under its independent kings (ensis), Ur-Bau and Gudea, and had extensive commercial communications with distant realms. According to his own records, Gudea brought cedars from the Amanus and Lebanon mountains in Syria, diorite from eastern Arabia, copper and gold from central and southern Arabia, while his armies were engaged in battles with Elam on the east. His was especially the era of artistic development. We even have a fairly good idea of what Gudea looked like, since he placed in temples throughout his city numerous statues or idols depicting himself with lifelike realism, (Statues of Gudea). At the time of Gudea, the capital of Lagash was actually in Girsu. The kingdom covered an area of approximately 1,600 square kilometres (620 sq mi). It contained 17 larger cities, eight district capitals, and numerous villages (about 40 known by name). According to one estimate, Lagash was the largest city in the world from ca. 2075 to 2030 BC. Soon after the time of Gudea, Lagash was absorbed into the Ur III state as one of its prime provinces. There is some information about the area during the Old Babylonian period. [Wikipedia]
Prince Gudea of Lagash. Four centuries before Abraham (2450 B.C.) Gudea, of Lagash,
was constructing a temple in honor of the goddess Mina gathering cedar wood from the forest of Lebanon,
and stones from Syria ; and pitch from the vicinity of the Dead Sea. His statue is now in the Louvre Museum.
LAGASH, or Sirpurla, one of the oldest centres of Sumerian civilization in Babylonia. It is represented by a rather low, long line of ruin mounds, along the dry bed of an ancient canal, some 3 m. E. of the Shatt-el-Hai and a little less than 10 m. N. of the modern Turkish town of Shatra. These ruins were discovered in 1877 by Ernest de Sarzec, at that time French consul at Basra, who was allowed, by the Montefich chief, Nasir Pasha, the first Wali-Pasha, or governor-general, of Basra, to excavate at his pleasure in the territories subject to that official. At the outset on his own account, and later as a representative of the French government, under a Turkish firman, de Sarzec continued excavations at this site, with various intermissions, until his death in 1901, after which the work was continued under the supervision of the Commandant Cros. The principal excavations were made in two larger mounds, one of which proved to be the site of the temple, E-Ninnu, the shrine of the patron god of Lagash, Nin-girsu or Ninib. This temple had been razed and a fortress built upon its ruins, in the Greek or Seleucid period, some of the bricks found bearing the inscription in Aramaic and Greek of a certain Hadad-nadin-akhe, king of a small Babylonian kingdom. It was beneath this fortress that the numerous statues of Gudea were found, which constitute the gem of the Babylonian collections at the Louvre. These had been decapitated and otherwise mutilated, and thrown into the foundations of the new fortress. From this stratum came also various fragments of bas reliefs of high artistic excellence. The excavations in the other larger mound resulted in the discovery of the remains of buildings containing objects of all sorts in bronze and stone, dating from the earliest Sumerian period onward, and enabling us to trace the art history of Babylonia to a date some hundreds of years before the time of Gudea. Apparently this mound had been occupied largely by store houses, in which were stored not only grain, figs, &c., but also vessels, weapons, sculptures and every possible object connected with the use and administration of palace and temple. In a small outlying mound de Sarzec discovered the archives of the temple, about 30,000 inscribed clay tablets, containing the business records, and revealing with extraordinary minuteness the administration of an ancient Babylonian temple, the character of its property, the method of farming its lands, herding its flocks, and its commercial and industrial dealings and enterprises; for an ancient Babylonian temple was a great industrial, commercial, agricultural and stock-raising establishment. Unfortunately, before these archives could be removed, the galleries containing them were rifled by the Arabs, and large numbers of the tablets were sold to antiquity dealers, by whom they have been scattered all over Europe and America. From the inscriptions found at Tello, it appears that Lagash was a city of great importance in the Sumerian period, some time probably in the 4th millennium B.C. It was at that time ruled by independent kings, Ur-Nina and his successors, who were engaged in contests with the Elamites on the east and the kings of Kengi and Kish on the north. With the Semitic conquest it lost its independence, its rulers becoming patesis, dependent rulers, under Sargon and his successors; but it still remained Sumerian and continued to be a city of much importance, and, above all, a centre of artistic development. Indeed, it was in this period and under the immediately succeeding supremacy of the kings of Ur, Ur-Gur and Dungi, that it reached its highest artistic development. At this period, also, under its patesis, Ur-bau and Gudea, Lagash had extensive commercial communications with distant realms. According to his own records, Gudea brought cedars from the Amanus and Lebanon mountains in Syria, diorite or dolorite from eastern Arabia, copper and gold from central and southern Arabia and from Sinai, while his armies, presumably under his over-lord, Ur-Gur, were engaged in battles in Elam on the east. His was especially the era of artistic development. Some of the earlier works of Ur-Nina, En-anna-turn, Entemena and others, before the Semitic conquest, are also extremely interesting, especially the famous stele of the vultures and a great silver vase ornamented with what may be called the coat of arms of Lagash, a lion-headed eagle with wings outspread, grasping a lion in each talon. After the time of Gudea, Lagash seems to have lost its importance; at least we know nothing more about it until the construction of the Seleucid fortress mentioned, when it seems to have become part of the Greek kingdom of Characene. The objects found at Tello are the most valuable art treasures up to this time discovered in Babylonia. [Encyclopaedia Britannica Ed. 11]
Kings of the Bible
The Kings of Israel (all wicked)
Jeroboam I (933-911 BC) twenty-two years
Nadab (911-910) two years
Baasha (910-887) twenty-four years
Elah (887-886) two years
Zimri (886) seven days
Omri (886-875) twelve years
Ahab (875-854) twenty-two years
Ahaziah (855-854) two years
Jehoram (Joram) (854-843) twelve years
Jehu (843-816) twenty-eight years
Jehoahaz (820-804) seventeen years
Jehoash (Joash) (806-790) sixteen years
Jeroboam II (790-749) forty-one years
Zechariah' (748) six months
Shallum (748) one month
Menahem (748-738) ten years
Pekahiah (738-736) two years
Pekah (748-730) twenty years
Hoshea (730-721) nine years
The Kings of Judah (8 were good)
Rehoboam (933-916 BC) seventeen years
Abijam (915-913) three years
Asa (Good) (912-872) forty-one years
Jehoshaphat (Good) (874-850) twenty-five years
Jehoram (850-843) eight years
Ahaziah (843) one year
Athaliah (843-837) six years
Joash (Good) (843-803) forty years
Amaziah (Good) (803-775) 29 years
Azariah (Uzziah) (Good) (787-735) fifty-two years
Jotham (Good) (749-734) sixteen years
Ahaz (741-726) sixteen years
Hezekiah (Good) (726-697) 29 years
Manasseh (697-642) fifty-five years
Amon (641-640) two years
Josiah (Good) (639-608) thirty-one years
Jehoahaz (608) three months
Jehoiachim (608-597) eleven years
Jehoiachin (597) three months
Zedekiah (597-586) eleven years
Some Scriptures mentioning the name "Babylon"
24:7 - And the king of Egypt came not again any more out of
his land: for the king of Babylon had taken from the
river of Egypt unto the river Euphrates all that pertained to the
king of Egypt.
Ezra 6:5 - And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God.
2 Kings 25:27 - And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth [day] of the month, [that] Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
Jeremiah 52:31 - And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth [day] of the month, [that] Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the [first] year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison,
Jeremiah 21:7 - And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
Jeremiah 50:2 - Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, [and] conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
Jeremiah 44:30 - Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life.
Micah 4:10 - Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go [even] to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
Jeremiah 32:4 - And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;
Jeremiah 20:6 - And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.
Jeremiah 38:23 - So they shall bring out all thy wives and thy children to the Chaldeans: and thou shalt not escape out of their hand, but shalt be taken by the hand of the king of Babylon: and thou shalt cause this city to be burned with fire.
Jeremiah 36:29 - And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?
Ezra 5:17 - Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.
Jeremiah 52:17 - Also the pillars of brass that [were] in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that [was] in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans brake, and carried all the brass of them to Babylon.
2 Kings 25:13 - And the pillars of brass that [were] in the house of the LORD, and the bases, and the brasen sea that [was] in the house of the LORD, did the Chaldees break in pieces, and carried the brass of them to Babylon.
Jeremiah 25:1 - The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that [was] the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;
Jeremiah 35:11 - But it came to pass, when Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came up into the land, that we said, Come, and let us go to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and for fear of the army of the Syrians: so we dwell at Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 29:18 - Son of man, Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon caused his army to serve a great service against Tyrus: every head [was] made bald, and every shoulder [was] peeled: yet had he no wages, nor his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it:
Esther 2:6 - Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away.
Jeremiah 39:9 - Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive into Babylon the remnant of the people that remained in the city, and those that fell away, that fell to him, with the rest of the people that remained.
Jeremiah 34:2 - Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire:
Matthew 1:12 - And after they were brought to Babylon, Jechonias begat Salathiel; and Salathiel begat Zorobabel;
Jeremiah 46:2 - Against Egypt, against the army of Pharaohnecho king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates in Carchemish, which Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon smote in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah.
Jeremiah 51:34 - Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.
Jeremiah 27:18 - But if they [be] prophets, and if the word of the LORD be with them, let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, and [in] the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon.
Daniel 5:7 - The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. [And] the king spake, and said to the wise [men] of Babylon, Whosoever shall read this writing, and shew me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and [have] a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.
Isaiah 14:22 - For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.
Daniel 3:12 - There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
Jeremiah 40:5 - Now while he was not yet gone back, [he said], Go back also to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon hath made governor over the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people: or go wheresoever it seemeth convenient unto thee to go. So the captain of the guard gave him victuals and a reward, and let him go.
Jeremiah 51:11 - Make bright the arrows; gather the shields: the LORD hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes: for his device [is] against Babylon, to destroy it; because it [is] the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple.
Babylonia in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
Babylonia is a plain which is made up of the alluvial deposits of
the mountainous regions in the North, where the Tigris and Euphrates
have their source. The land is bounded on the North by Assyria and
Mesopotamia; on the East by Elam, separated by the mountains of
Elam; on the South by the sea marshes, and the country Kaldu (Chaldaea);
and on the West by the Syrian desert. Some of the cities of the
lower country were seaport towns in the early period, but now are
far inland. This land-making process continues even at the present
time at the rate of about 70 ft. a year. This plain, in the days
when Babylonia flourished, sustained a dense population. It was
covered with a network of canals, skillfully planned and regulated,
which brought prosperity to the land, because of the wonderful
fertility of the soil. The neglect of these canals and doubtless,
also, the change of climate, have resulted in altered conditions in
the country. It has become a cheerless waste. During some months of
the year, when the inundations take place, large portions of the
land are partially covered with swamps and marshes. At other times
it looks like a desolate plain. 1. Mounds: Throughout the land there
are seen, at the present time, ruin-hills or mounds of accumulation
of debris, which mark the site of ancient cities. Some of these
cities were destroyed in a very early era, and were never rebuilt.
Others were occupied for millenniums, and their history extends far
into the Christian era. The antiquities generally found in the upper
stratum of the mounds which were occupied up to so late a period,
show that they were generally inhabited by the Jews, who lived there
after the Babylonians had disappeared. 2. Explorations: The
excavations conducted at various sites have resulted in the
discovery, besides antiquities of almost every character, of
hundreds of thousands of inscriptions on clay and stone, but
principally on the former material. At Tello more than 60,000
tablets were found, belonging largely to the administrative archives
of the temple of the third millennium BC. At Nippur about 50,000
inscriptions were found, many of these also belonging to temple
archives. But about 20,000 tablets and fragments found in that city
came from the library...
Babylon in Naves Topical Bible
1. CITY OF Built by Nimrod Ge 10:10 In the land of Shinar Ge 10:10;
11:2 Tower of Ge 11:1-9 Capital of the kingdom of Babylon Da 4:30;
2Ki 25:13; 2Ch 36:6,7,10,18,20 Gates of Isa 45:1,2; Jer 51:58 Walled
Jer 51:44,58 Splendor of Isa 14:4 Peter writes from 1Pe 5:13
Prophecies concerning Ps 87:4; 137:8,9; Isa 13; 14:4-26; 21:1-10;
46:1,2; 47; 48:14,20; Jer 21:4-10; 25:12-14; 27:1-11; 28:14; 32:28;
34:2,3; 42:11,12; 43; 46:13-26; 49:28-30; 50; 51; Eze 21:19; 26;
29:17-20; 30:10; 32:11; Da 2:21-38; 4:10- 26; 5:25-29; 7; Hab
1:5-11; Zec 2:7-9 -FIGURATIVE Re 14:8; 16:19; 17; 18 -2. EMPIRE OF
Founded by Nimrod Ge 10:10 Called LAND OF SHINAR Ge 10:10; 11:2;
14:1,9; Isa 11:11; Da 1:2; Zec 5:11 SHESHACH Jer 25:26; 51:41
MERATHAIM Jer 50:21 Called also CHALDEA, which see Divisions of 2Ki
17:24; 24:7; Isa 23:12,13; Da 3:1; Ac 7:4 Extent of, at the time of
Nebuchadnezzar Da 2:37,38; 4:1; 6:1 At the time of Ahasuerus Es 1:1;
8:9; 9:30 Armies of, invade ancient Canaan Ge 14 Samaria 2Ki 17:5-24
Judah 2Ki 24:1-16 Jews carried to 2Ki 25; 1Ch 9:1; 2Ch 33:11;
36:17-21; Jer 32:2; 39; 52 Colonists from, sent to Samaria Ezr
4:9,10; with 2Ki 17:29-32 Conquest of Egypt by 2Ki 24:7 Prophecies
of conquests by 2Ki 20:16-19; Jer 20:4-7; 21; 22; 25:1-11; 27; 28;
29; 32:28,29; 34; 36:29; 38:17,18; 43:8-13; 46:13-26; Eze 12; 17;
19; 21; 24; 26; 29:18-20; 30; 32 Prophetic denunciations against Ps
137:8,9; Isa 13; 14:21; 43:14-17; 47; Jer 50; 51 GOVERNMENT OF A
limited monarchy Es 1:13-19; 8:8; Da 6:8,14,17 Tyrannical Es 3:7-15;
Babel in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
Babel (Hebrew) means Babylon; so that "the tower" should be
designated "the tower of Babel." Capital of the country Shinar
(Genesis), Chaldea (later Scriptures). The name as given by Nimrod
(Genesis 10:10), the founder, means (Bab- il), "the gate of the god
Il," or simply "of God." Afterward the name was attached to it in
another sense (Providence having ordered it so that a name should be
given originally, susceptible of another sense, signifying the
subsequent divine judgment), Genesis 11:9; Babel from baalal, "to
confound; .... because the Lord did there confound the language of
all the earth," in order to counteract their attempt by a central
city and tower to defeat God's purpose of the several tribes of
mankind being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth,"
and to constrain them, as no longer "understand one another's
speech," to dispel The Talmud says, the site of tower of Babel is
Borsippa, the Bits Nimrud, 7 1/2 miles from Hillah, and 11 from the
northern ruins of Babylon. The French expedition found at Borsippa a
clay cake, dated the 30th day of the 6th month of the 16th year of
Nabonid. Borsippa (the Tongue Tower) was a suburb of Babylon, when
the old Babel was restricted to the northern ruins. Nebuchadnezzar
included it in the great circumvallation of 480 stadia. When the
outer wall was destroyed by Darius Borsippa became independent of
Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar's temple or tower of Nebo stood on the
basement of the old tower of Babel. He says in the inscription, "the
house of the earth's base (the basement substructure), the most
ancient monument of Babylon I built and finished; I exalted its head
with bricks covered with copper ... the house of the seven lights
(the seven planets); a former king 42 ages ago built, but did not
complete its head. Since a remote time people had abandoned it,
without order expressing their words; the earthquake and thunder had
split and dispersed its sun-dried clay." The substructure had a
temple sacred to Sin, god of the mouth (Oppert). The substructure is
600 Babylonian ft. broad, 75 high; on it Nebuchadnezzar built seven
other stages. God had infatuated His will that "the earth should be
divided," the several tribes taking different routes, in the days of
Peleg ("division"), born 100 years after the flood (Genesis 10:25;
Genesis 10:32; Deuteronomy 32:8). Another object the Babel builders
sought was to "make themselves a name"; self-relying pride setting
up its own will against the will of God, and dreaming of ability to
defeat God's purpose, was their snare. Also their "tower, whose top
(pointed toward, or else reached) unto heaven," was designed as a
self-deifying, God-defying boast. Compare Isaiah 14:13; God alone
has the right to "make Himself a name" (Isaiah 63:12; Isaiah 63:14;
Jeremiah 32:20). They desired to establish a grand central point of
unity. They tacitly acknowledge they have lost the inward spiritual
bond of unity, love to God uniting them in love to one another. They
will make up for it by an outward forced unity; the true unity by
loving obedience to God they might have had, though dispersed. Their
tower toward heaven may have marked its religious dedication to the
heavens (sabeanism, worship of the tsaba, the hosts of heaven), the
first era in idolatry; as also the first effort after that universal
united empire on earth which is to be realized not by man's
ambition, but by the manifestation of Messiah, whose right the
kingdom is (Ezekiel 21:27). "The Lord came down to see the city and
the tower, which the children of men builded," i.e. (in
condescension to human language), Jehovah took judicial cognizance
of their act: their "go to, let us," etc. (Genesis 11:3-4), Jehovah
with stern irony meets with His "Go to, let us," etc....
Babel in Hitchcock's Bible Names confusion; mixture
Babylon in Easton's Bible Dictionary the Greek form of BABEL; Semitic form Babilu, meaning "The Gate of God." In the Assyrian tablets it means "The city of the dispersion of the tribes." The monumental list of its kings reaches back to B.C. 2300, and includes Khammurabi, or Amraphel (q.v.), the contemporary of Abraham. It stood on the Euphrates, about 200 miles above its junction with the Tigris, which flowed through its midst and divided it into two almost equal parts. The Elamites invaded Chaldea (i.e., Lower Mesopotamia, or Shinar, and Upper Mesopotamia, or Accad, now combined into one) and held it in subjection. At length Khammu-rabi delivered it from the foreign yoke, and founded the new empire of Chaldea (q.v.), making Babylon the capital of the united kingdom. This city gradually grew in extent and grandeur, but in process of time it became subject to Assyria. On the fall of Nineveh (B.C. 606) it threw off the Assyrian yoke, and became the capital of the growing Babylonian empire. Under Nebuchadnezzar it became one of the most splendid cities of the ancient world. 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; Jer. 25:12; 50:2, 3; Dan. 2:31-38). The Babylon mentioned in 1 Pet. 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 Rev. 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).