The Enigma of Babylon

                      The Enigma of 3 Babylons

 

 

Introduction

 

The Bible describes a place called Babel, Babylon or Shinar in at least six chapters. Shinar the region, is a name for a district in which the citiy of Babel also known as Babylon is located. The Plain of Shinar regionally is comprised of the area south and east of Baghdad extending to the Persian Gulf. It is is directly stated seven times in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 10:10, 11:2; 14:1, 9; Isaiah 11:11; Daniel 1:2; Zechariah 5:11). It is also mentioned in several other locations by implied reference (e.g Joshua 7:21). This area of Shinar and the city of Babylon or Babel have very prominent roles in the long story of the history of the world as developed in the Bible. Its story begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. The seven chapters of the Bible developing most of the information regarding Babylon are Genesis ten, eleven, Isaiah eleven, Jeremiah fifty, fifty-one and Revelation seventeen and eighteen. Concepetually there are three primary entities described in the Bible identified as Babylon. This article will describe and expand on the three principal aspects of Babylon.

Map by Ezilon Maps, accessed at http://www.ezilon.com/maps/asia/iraq-physical-maps.html

 

The Three Babylons

 

In Scripture there are three entities named at Babylon. They are Babylon, 1) the geographic location, 2) the world system and 3) the corrupt religious system. It begins in Genesis chapter ten with a description of its origin under a dictator named Nimrod

 

Nimrod

 

Genesis 10:8-10

 

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar (KJV).

 

The word “before” in Hebrew is paneh and this context it means defiant

 

The name Nimrod means to rebel or to be rebellious. Principally it means to rebel against God. He was the first man of might on the earth. He was a man of extraordinary talents and powers. Nimrod lived after the Flood and Noah lived to see the rise of Nimrod his great grandson.  He was the sixth son born of Cush. His name in Hebrew means to rebel. He was the founder of Babylon and Assyria. He is mentioned in I Chronicles 1: 10, Micah 5: 6 and here in Genesis 10: 8b-9. The Hebrew text states that he was a mighty hunter before the Lord. This is indicative of his antagonism and opposition to God. He was wicked and made the whole world rebel through the building of the Tower of Babel. He was the first to establish kingdoms. This happened in two stages. The first is in Shinar, which included the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh. The second kingdom was Assyria which is called the land of Nimrod in Micah 5: 6. After the language was separated in confused by God it drove him to Assyria from Babylon. The two have been intertwined in all aspects since then.

 

Josephus says:

 

Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage, which procured that happiness. (114) He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers! [1]

 

  1. The Cultic Background

 

Tradition suggests that Nimrod died a violent death. One tradition says that a wild animal killed him. Another says that Shem killed him because he had led the people into the worship of Baal.

 

According to ancient Egyptian and Babylonian traditions, his mother was Semiramis; sometimes Semiramis is referred to as the mother of Nimrod, and sometimes as his wife, leading to the belief that Nimrod married his mother. Also according to these traditions, Semiramis, who rose to greatness because of her son, was presented with a difficulty when her son died, so instead she pronounced him to be a god, so that she herself would become a goddess.

 

Even though Semiramis claimed to be a virgin she had another son, named Tammuz, who she said was the reincarnation of Nimrod. She became known as the “Virgin Mother”, “Holy Mother” and the “Queen of Heaven” and was symbolized by the Moon. So began the worship of Semiramis and the child-god, and the whole paraphernalia of the Babylonian religious system. Tammuz was said to have died and came back to life.

 

After the decline of  Early Babylon, people migrated and with them the cultic religion. The religion was transported to Egypt where the people worshipped the same mother child cult known as Isis and her son Osiris (sometimes known as Horus). The same mother and child deities appeared in Greece as Ceres, the Great Mother, with the babe at her breast, or as Irene, the goddess of Peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms and in Pagan Rome as Fortuna and Jupiter. Other cultures embraced this concept such as Cyprian and  Indian.

From, Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism by Thomas Inman

In its organized form false religion began with the tower of Babel and Nimrod, from which Babylon derives its name. Cain was the first false worshiper, and many individuals after him followed his example. But organized pagan religion began with the descendants of Ham, one of Noah’s three sons, who decided to erect a great monument that would “reach into heaven” and make themselves a great name (Genesis 10:9,10; 11:4) Under the leadership of the proud and apostate Nimrod they planned to storm heaven and unify their power and prestige in a great worldwide system of worship. That was man’s first counterfeit religion, from which every other false occultic religion in one way or another has sprung.

 

God’s judgment frustrated their primary purpose of making a grand demonstration of humanistic unity. By confusing “their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech,” and scattering “them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:7–8) the Lord halted the building of the tower and fractured their solidarity. But those people took with them the seeds of that false, idolatrous religion, seeds that they and their descendants have been planting throughout the world ever since. The ideas and forms were altered, adapted, and sometimes made more sophisticated, but the basic system remained, and remains, unchanged. That is why Babel, or Babylon, is called “the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). She was the progenitor of all false religions.

 

From various ancient sources Semiramis is presented as Nimrod’s wife, and was high priestess of the Babel religion and the founder of all mystery religions. After the tower was destroyed and the multiplicity of languages developed, she was worshiped as a goddess under many different names. She became Ishtar of Syria, Astarte of Phoenicia, Isis of Egypt, Aphrodite of Greece, and Venus of Rome—in each case the deity of sexual love and fertility. Her son Tammuz, also came to be deified under various names and was the consort of Ishtar and god of the underworld.

 

According to the cult of Ishtar, Tammuz was conceived by a sunbeam, a counterfeit version of Jesus’ virgin birth. Tammuz corresponded to Baal in Phoenicia, Osiris in Egypt, Eros in Greece, and Cupid in Rome. In every case, the worship of those gods and goddesses was associated with sexual immorality. The celebration of Lent which has no basis in Scripture, but rather developed from the pagan celebration of Semiramis’ mourning for forty days over the death of Tammuz (Ezekekiel 8:14) before his alleged resurrection.

 

Ezekiel 8:13-15

 

He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations that they do. Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which [was] toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen [this], O son of man? turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations than these (KJV).

 

Ezekiel is communing with The Lord in a vision and the Lord shows him these things. Ezekiel was taken by the Babylonians to Babylon in the second invasion of Nebuchanezzer in 597 B.C. Here the Lord showed Ezekiel the extent of the apostasy the Jews had fallen into back in Jerusalem.

 

2. Babylon the World System

 

For nearly 2,000 years Babylon was the most important city in the world. It was a commercial and financial center of Mesopotamia. The arts of divination, astronomy, astrology, accounting, mathematics and private and commercial law all sprang up from Babylon. In short many of our present world systems came from that region.

 

It started in Genesis 10:6. The Son of Ham is Cush who begat Nimrod. This was man’s first attempt to establish a world state in opposition to the divine rule. There God struck the very thing that binds all men together namely, a common language. It became a city-state of Assyria and along the way Nabopolassar was appointed the King of the city. His son was Nebuchadnezzar who became king in 606 B.C.

 

Architecture

 

The ancient city of Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, must have been a wonder to the traveler’s eyes. “In addition to its size,” wrote Herodotus, a historian in 450 BC, “Babylon surpasses in splendour any city in the known world.” Herodotus claimed the outer walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. Wide enough, he said, to allow a four-horse chariot to turn. The river Euphrates went through the middle of the city under the walls and linked with a moat surrounding the walls.  The river Euphrates entered and exited through two spiked gates whose bars reached down to the riverbed. When these double doors were shut and all other entrances were closed, Babylon was impregnable.

Inside the walls were fortresses and temples containing immense statues of solid gold. Rising above the city was the famous Tower of Babel, a temple to the god Marduk, that seemed to reach to the heavens.

 

Nebuchadnezzar came from the sea lands of the tribe of Kedar in the south. (Kuwait) So did Mohammed and Sadaam Hussein.

Nebuchadnezzar, who built the hanging  gardens, (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world), was the most important ruler of his dynasty. As a military commander, he followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, conquering many cities. He marched through Israel and besieged Jerusalem three times. Nebuchadnezzar was also one of the most renowned builders in the Near East, making Babylon the most beautiful city in the region. His reign in Scripture begins the “Times of the Gentiles” meaning the time that Gentiles would be in control of Jerusalem as well as the world governments and economy.

Nebuchadnezzar also built the Ishtar Gate. It was a double gate at the south end of the processional way, which was dedicated to the goddess Ishtar. It was covered with brilliant blue glazed bricks and bas-relief animal sculptures. It is now in the state museum of Berlin. When visitors came upon this gate they would be in awe. Travelers marveled at the walls decorated with colorful patterns of blue and yellow enameled bricks.

The reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin from Wikipedia

Nebuchadnezzar paved the street sidewalks with small red stone slabs. Along the edge of each stone were carved, “I am Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who made this,” demonstrating Nebuchadnezzar’s absolute power and influence over Babylon . Nebuchadnezzar used these works as a means of self-promotion and self-glorification, not unlike other kings of any time. “Although Nebuchadnezzar suffered from insanity at some point during his 43-year reign, he transformed his city into an urban wonder”, states Herodotus . We know from Daniel Chapter 4 that the Lord took away his ability to lead, think or care for himself for seven years. Nebuchadnezzar died a world conqueror and an architectural role model.

The Laws of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest sets of laws found, and one of the best preserved examples of this type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. It shows rules and punishments if those rules are defied. It focuses on theft, farming (or shepherding), property damage, women’s rights, marriage rights, children’s rights, slave rights, and murder, death, and injury. The laws do not accept excuses or explanations for mistakes or fault.

There were 282 laws on an obsidian stela, which is lava like stone and it is about 8 feet tall. It was discovered in 1909. It is now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. This concept lives on in most modern legal systems and has given rise to the term “written in stone”.

from Wikkipedia

Mathematics.

They developed a form of writing based on cuneiform (i.e. wedge-shaped) symbols. Their symbols were written on wet clay tablets, which were baked in the hot sun, and many thousands of these tablets have survived to be read by us today. It was the use of a stylus on a clay medium that led to the use of cuneiform symbols since curved lines could not be drawn.

The Babylonians divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This form of counting (hexasegimal or base 60) has survived for 4000 years. Their year and calendar had 30 month days and 360 day years. (Same as Genesis 7 & 8, Daniel 7:25 Revelation 12:6, 14, 13:5)

They had tables of squares, square roots, cubes, cube roots, reciprocals, exponential functions, log functions….. They had knowledge of trigonometry, the Pythagorean theorem 1200 years before Pythagoreas did, and pi. They divided the circle into 360 degrees.

None of these aspects of the world systems that babylon developed are in themselves bad. It is the love of these systems instead of God that caused God to want us to disengage from them.

  1. Babylon The City

The city of Babylon is an actual geographic city located in the fertile crescent found in south east Iraq. Babylon began in Genesis and will end in Revelation.  Founded by Nimrod it will be destroyed at the Second Coming of Jesus while the Antichrist has the one-world government headquarters located there. According to Zechariah chapter five and Revelation chapter eighteen Babylon will be the political and economic capital of the world under the Antichrist.

It seems that men of enormous egos have desired to control it. Alexander the Great conquered it and died there in June of 323 B.C. at the age of thirty two.

It has never been destroyed yet (Isaiah 13:19-20). It fell into disrepair over the years since Cyrus took over the city in 539 B.C. Under Saddam Hussein it underwent a transformation. It has been rebuilt. Presumably the Antichrist will fully restore it for his own lavish world headquarters.

God Implores us to Come out of Her.

Revelation 18:4-5

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying Come out of her, my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities (KJV).

God is stating that we must disengage ourselves from the occult religions of this earth. This refers to any system of religion that is not the genuine Church started by Jesus the Messiah. It consists of genuine born again believers and no others. They will all become aparant after the Rapture and Resurrection of the genuine Church. This verse in Revelation is directed at the world near the end of the Great Tribulation.

 

We must disengage from the various economic and law systems of the world if we are loving them more than God. They are all useful but when commerce become a stronger draw to a person then one must come out of it.

 

Finally the actual city of Babylon will be destroyed in the Campaign of Armageddon. Anybody who becomes a believer during the Tribulation will realize what it is a must evacuate it before Jesus destroys it at His coming.

 

 

 

 

[1] Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson, Antiquities of the Jews Chapter 4:2 para 113, 114.

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