Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "".
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    January 13, 1888

    “Babylon, Cyrus, and the Jews” The Signs of the Times 14, 2, pp. 22, 23.

    WITH the exception of Jerusalem, there is more said about Babylon in the Bible than there is about any other city or power in the world. in the history it occupies a large place; in the prophecies a much larger place. Genesis 10:10; 11:8. In the time of Isaiah she was called “The lady of kingdoms.” Isaiah 47:5. Isaiah himself called her “The glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency,” and “The golden city.” Chap. 13:19; 14:4. Jeremiah called it “The praise of the whole earth.” Chap. 51:41.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.1

    Herodotus, who lived about 484-430 B.C., says of it:—SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.2

    “The city stands on a broad plain, ... and is an exact square, 120 furlongs in length each way, so that the entire circuit is 480 furlongs. While such is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall 50 royal cubits in width, and 200 in height. (The royal cubit is longer by three fingers’ breadth than the common cubit.)”—Her., book 1, chap. 178.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.3

    And of its walls and fortresses Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon, says:—SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.4

    “Imgur-bel and Nivit-bel, the great walls of Babylon, I built them square.... I repaired, with bitumen and bricks, the sides of the ditches that had been dug. I caused to be put in order the double doors of bronze, and the railings and the gratings, in the great gateways. I enlarged the streets of Babylon so as to make them wonderful. I applied myself to the protection of Babylon and Vale Saggatu (the pyramid), and on the most elevated lands, close to the great gate of Ishtar, I constructed strong fortresses of bitumen and bricks, from the banks of the Euphrates down to the great gate, the whole extent of the streets. I established their foundations below the level of the waters. I fortified these walls with art. I caused Imgur-bel, the great wall of Babylon, the impregnable, such as no king before me had made, to be measured, 4,000 mahargagar.”SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.5

    “This measurement,” says Lenormant, “corresponds exactly with the 480 stades [sixty miles] given by Herodotus as the circuit.”—Ancient History of the East, book 4, chap. 5, sec. 3, par. 16.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.6

    The city, as stated above, lay in the form of a square, 15 miles on each side, making 60 miles around it. It was surrounded by a wall 350 feet high, and about 85 feet thick at the top. On the top of the wall, at irregular intervals, were built towers to guard the most accessible parts. Of these towers there were 250. The open space on the wall, within the line of these towers, was of sufficient breadth to allow a four-horse chariot to turn with safety. Twenty-five gates pierced the wall on each side, making one hundred gates in all in the outer wall. These were double gates of solid brass, with brazen lintels and posts, and fastened with bars of iron. Around the wall on the outside ran a moat, corresponding in width and depth to the greatness of the wall. Under the wall and diagonally through the city, from corner to corner, so as to obtain the greatest length of water, ran the river Euphrates. On each side of the river, inside of the city, was built a strong wall, each wall being pierced with twenty-five gates opening into the streets that ran from the outer gates. These were also brazen gates like those in the outer wall. The banks of the river were lined throughout with brick laid in bitumen, with sloping landing-places at the gates. Boats were always ready at these landing-places by which to pass from side to side of the river. Over the river about the middle of the city was a drawbridge thirty feet wide, supported on stone piers. At the two ends of the bridge were the two grand palaces of the city. Of course the vast area within the city was not built up solidly with houses, as is a modern city. There were gardens, orchards, and fields interspersed among the houses, and about the palaces and temples. It was expected that if ever the city should be besieged, they could grow sufficient provisions within the walls to support the population, so that they might shut their gates, man the towers, and dwell securely, with no fears of ever being overcome by any besieging force.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.7

    The houses were mostly three or four stories high, magnificently built, and both houses and grounds grandly adorned. Its temple were marvels of architecture, and most richly furnished; and its temple of Bel and its hanging gardens were among the wonders of the world. “The spoils of Nineveh, Jerusalem, and Egypt had enriched it; its armies had swept like a torrent over the finest countries of the East; the arts and sciences, driven from Phœnicia and Egypt, were centered here; and hither the philosophers of the West came to imbibe instruction.” The astronomers of Babylon were the leading ones of the world in her time. The following quotation from Rawlinson gives a just view of Babylon’s place in regard to the arts and sciences:—SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.1

    “Babylon seems to have been the source from which Assyria drew her learning, such as it was, her architecture, the main ideas of her mimetic art, her religious notions, her legal forms, and a vast number of her customs and usages. But Babylonia herself, so far as we know, drew her stores from no foreign country. Hers was apparently the genius which excogitated an alphabet—worked out the simplest problems of arithmetic—invented implements for measuring the lapse of time—conceived the idea of raising enormous structures with the poorest of all materials, clay—discovered the art of polishing, boring, and engraving gems—reproduced with truthfulness the outlines of human and animal forms—attained to high perfection in textile fabrics—studied with success the motions of the heavenly bodies—conceived of grammar as a science—elaborated a system of law—saw the value of an exact chronology—in almost every branch of science made a beginning—in almost every branch of science made a beginning, thus rendering it comparatively easy for other nations to proceed with the superstructure. To Babylonia far more than to Egypt, we owe the art and learning of the Greeks. It was from the East, not from Egypt, that Greece derived her architecture, her sculpture, her science, her philosophy, her mathematical knowledge—in a word, her intellectual life. And Babylon was the source to which the entire stream of Eastern civilization may be traced.”—Seven Great Monarchies, Fourth, chap. 8, last par.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.2

    Yet as great as Babylon was, the Lord said she should be “as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.” “I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of hosts.” And he has done it. The prophecies concerning the fall and the final ruin of Babylon are many and remarkable, and they have been so perfectly fulfilled that the subject forms a most interesting study. That which makes it the more so is the fact that in this case the history is so full and authentic. About all that there is to do is to quote the words of the prophecy and set alongside of it the statements of the history.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.3

    The first mention of Babylon in any prophecy is in Isaiah 39:1-7. Hezekiah king of Judah had been sick unto death, and the Lord told him by Isaiah to set his house in order, for he should die, and not live. Then he prayed that he might live longer, and the Lord granted him fifteen years, and the prophet told him he should recover. Hezekiah asked what should be the sign that the Lord would heal him, and Isaiah answered, “This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken; shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees?” Hezekiah asked that the shadow might go back ten degrees. “And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord; and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.” 2 Kings 20:8-11. The Babylonians, being great astronomers, noticed the phenomenon, and in their inquiries in regard to it, learned that Hezekiah had been sick and was recovered, and that this solar phenomenon had occurred in connection with the matter. Therefore Merodach-baladan, who was then king of Babylon, sent ambassadors with letters and a present unto Hezekiah, “to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land.” “And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures; there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.” Then Isaiah came and asked Hezekiah who these men were, and what they had seen. Hezekiah told him they came from Babylon and that there was nothing among all his treasures that he had not showed them.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.4

    “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” 2 Chronicles 32:31; Isaiah 39:2-7.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.5

    All this occurred about 712 B.C., and from one hundred and six to one hundred and fourteen years afterward, this prophecy was literally fulfilled. For then Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, captured Jerusalem. “And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of his eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of the princes ... to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.” One of these was Daniel, and God “brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” Daniel 1. After that, in the eighth years of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged and took Jerusalem. “And he carried out thence all the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king’s house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said.” 2 Kings 24:13.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.6

    But Isaiah not only prophesied that the people should be carried captive to Babylon, he also said they should be released from captivity, and that without price or reward, and even gave the name of the man who should release them. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him;” “for Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” “He shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 45:1-4, 13. When the Medes and Persians had taken Babylon, Daniel was made prime minister of the empire. He showed to Cyrus this prophecy which called him by name, and told him of the true God; and in his very first year, Cyrus, king of Persia, “made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord God of Heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? The Lord his God be with him and let him go up.” 2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-11.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.7

    Now we have found that Isaiah told of the captivity more than a hundred years before the people were carried captive; and the captivity lasted seventy years. Therefore Isaiah prophesied their release, and named the man who should release them, one hundred and seventy-six years before it came to pass. But Cyrus was about sixty-three years old when he issued this proclamation. Therefore Isaiah called him by name one hundred and thirteen years before he was born. At that time there was no such country as Persia, and the ancestors of Cyrus were only wandering tribes. This word of Isaiah was as though, in A.D. 1619, someone in England had called Washington by name, and had said to king James I. that the American colonies would be set free from the power of Britain, and that Washington would be the man who should set them free.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.8

    The word which Isaiah spoke is the word of God. In the case of Babylon and Cyrus, and the captivity and release of the Jews, it was literally fulfilled. Other prophecies concerning Babylon will be noted hereafter.SITI January 13, 1888, page 22.9

    J.

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents