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Ancient Babylon

Ancient Babylon - Where is it?
Ancient Babylon was located in Mesopotamia between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. Today, the remains of the city are spread out over a cluster of mounds located on the Euphrates about 60 miles southwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The river divided the city in two, with the old city to the east and a smaller new city to the west. The river then fed main canals that watered each half. During the rein of Sennacherib, the city was destroyed by the Assyrians. Once the city was rebuilt, the name was changed to Babylonia. Later, the city became the internment site for the Hebrew captives who were marched into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century, BCE.

The ground is very fertile and produces wild barley, chickpea, and sesame. The marshlands produce an edible root that is equal in nutrition to barley. The land is also rich with dates, apples, and other fruit as well as fish and birds.

The name Babylon is somewhat of a mystery. The Hebrews of the Bible traced its origins to a word in their own language that means “confusion,” deriving the name from “The Tower of Babel,” which was also located there. In the biblical story, God placed confusion of speech upon the builders so they could no longer communicate and complete their work. In the Semitic language, which the Babylonians spoke, the name of the city may have meant “Gate of God” or “Gate of the Gods.”

Ancient Babylon - Who Did They Worship?
There a number of gods in which the ancient Babylonians worshipped:

  • An or Anu - the god of Heaven
  • Enlil - The god of the air and storms. He normally was portrayed in human form, but also appears as a snake to the human eye
  • Enki - The god of water and the fertile earth
  • Ki - The mother-goddess representing the earth
  • Ashur - Main god of Assyria (sky god)
  • Ninlil or Nillina - The goddess of air (possibly the south wind) and wife of Enlil
  • Inanna - The goddess of love and war
  • Ea - The god of Wisdom
  • Marduk - Originally Ea’s son and god of light. He was the main god of Babylon and the sender of the Babylonian king
  • Nanna - The god of the moon
  • Utu or Shamash - The god of the sun, as well as god of justice
  • Ninurta - a solar deity

Ancient Babylon - What Was Their Culture?
The most famous innovation of ancient Babylonian culture was astronomy, which began as a study of astrology. They created stellar catalogues and a nearly perfect calendar, of which the Jews later copied. They were able to predict eclipses, which they believed announced dangerous and evil times. Eclipses were predicted through two mathematical systems they developed. These systems were the scientific basis of the mathematical and astronomic legacy of ancient Babylonia.

Ancient Babylon still figures in the future of the world. Many of the religious ideas of the Babylonians are still taught in many of today’s religions. Astrology was held in high esteem in Babylonian society, much as it is today. Perhaps the most important legacy that Babylon gave us was its role in the lives of the Jewish people. The Lord used Babylon as a tool to punish His people when they turned from Him. The Bible also tells us that in the future, the Lord will punish Babylon, just as He did in the past.

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