“It will never again be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation.” Jeremiah
During the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (605 – 562 B.C.), Babylon was the most powerful city in the Fertile Crescent./1 Famous for its Hanging Gardens, it was surrounded by two walls. Herodotus wrote that the outer was eleven feet in width, and its circumference was fifty-six miles; with the inner wall at twenty-one feet and towers at sixty foot intervals./2 To enter this magnificent city from the north, one had to pass through the glazed bricked Ishtar Gate./3 Once inside the citadel, the roadway led directly to the palace./4
Nebuchadnezzar’s royal home surpassed the grandeur of the rest of the city. The dimensions of the palace were 350 by 200 yards. His throne room measured 165 by 143 feet, and it was surrounded by five courts and 600 rooms. The interior walls were constructed of enameled bricks covered in blue, yellow, and white garlands.
In 606 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Kingdom of Judah, and many Hebrews were exiled as prisoners to Babylon (2 Kings 24:1-20; Jeremiah 39:1-18). Among this number was a young prophet by the name of Daniel (Daniel 1:1-6). Twice, he was brought into the palace to interpret dreams for Nebuchadnezzar. The first time the king was told that his kingdom would come to an end (Daniel 2:1-49), and the second time he was told that he would loose his sanity (Daniel 4:1-37).
Both of these prophesies came to pass, but they were not the first concerning Babylon. Isaiah prophesied, “Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms, the glory of the Babylonians’ pride, will be overthrown by God like Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited or lived in through all generations; no Arab will pitch his tent there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about. Hyenas will howl in her strongholds, jackals in her luxurious palaces. Her time is at hand, and her days will not be prolonged.” Likewise, the prophet Jeremiah said, “Babylon’s thick wall will be leveled and her gates set on fire.”./5
Two years ago, one of my former students, who is now a soldier in the U.S. Army, told me that he had visited Babylon. He was surprised to see that Saddam Hussein had tried to restore the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. In the throne room, Hussein had laid bricks on top of Nebuchadnezzar’s bricks. Inscribed on the bricks were these words, “In the era of Saddam Hussein, protector of Iraq, who rebuilt civilization and rebuilt Babylon.”
Charles Dyer explained how Iraqi President Saddam Hussein started this restoration during the International Babylon Festival in 1988: “It is a cloudless September night, and the moon cast its shining image on the banks of the gentle Euphrates River. Thousands of guests and dignitaries walk by torch light to Babylon’s Procession Street and enter the city from the north. Instructed to line the streets along the massive walls, the guests obediently follow orders. When the audience is in place, the dark-eyed man in charge nods, and the procession begins. Rows and rows of soldiers parade in, dressed in Babylonian tunics and carrying swords, spears and shields. Interspersed among the ranks of soldiers are groups of musicians playing harps, horns and drums. Clusters of children carry palm branches, and runners bear bowls of incense. Then come soldiers and still more soldiers in a seemingly endless line of men and weapons. After the procession, the guests attend a ceremony paying tribute to Ishtar, the mother goddess of Babylon.”/6 By 1990, Hussein had over six million bricks inscribed and in place to be used in the restoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. However, the job was never completed, for on December 30, 2006, Saddam Hussein was executed by the Iraqi people.
Before we draw any conclusions about the life and death of Hussein, shall we not look internally? Sometimes we neglect the teaching of the scriptures too? Have we tried to build upon the ruins of those who have gone before us? Let’s continue to read, examine, and respond to God’s word. Christian, are you up for the task?
“By the rivers of Babylon
where we went down,
And there we wept
when we remembered Zion.” –Psalm 137
1./ The Fertile Crescent begins at the Persian Gulf. It extends northward along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, curving back to southwest following the Mediterranean sea. It ends at the Isthmus of Suez.
2./ Herodotus was a Greek historian who lived in 484 B.C.
3./ The Ishtar Gate was forty feet high and named after the goddess of love and fertility. In Assyria, Ishtar was the goddess of war.
4./ The name of this street was Ai-ibur-sabu (“the enemy shall not prevail”). It is also know as the Procession Street.
5./ These prophesies can be found in the Old Testament (Isaiah 13:1-22; Jeremiah 50:1-46; Jeremiah 51:1-64).
6./ Dr. Charles H. Dyer is the author of “The Rise of Babylon,” and he serves as Provost for the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois.
Saddam Hussein tried to rebuild it, but failed.