Babylonia (Βαβυλωνία), a name for the southern portion of Mesopotamia, constituting the region of which Babylon was the chief city. The latter name alone is occasionally used in Scripture for the entire region; but its most usual designation is CHALDEA SEE CHALDEA (q.v.). The Chaldaeans proper, or Chasdim, however, were probably originally from the mountainous region farther north, now occupied by the Kurds (with which name, indeed, many find an etymological connection; see Golius, ad Alfrag. p. 17; Rodiger, in the Zeitschr. f. d. Kunde d. Morgenl. 3, 8), a portion of whom under the Assyrian sway may have migrated into Mesopotamia (see Isa 23:13), and thus eventually became masters of the rich plain of Shinar (see Vitringa, ad Jesa. 1:412 sq.; Gesenius, art. Chaldaer, in Ersch and Gruber's Encycl.). The original inhabitants nevertheless appear to have been of the Shemitic family (see Adelung, Mithridat. 1:314 sq.; Olshausen, Emend. zum A. T. p. 41 sq.); and their language belonged to the class of tongues spoken by that race, particularly to the Aramaic branch, and was indeed a dialect similar to that which is now called the Chaldee. SEE ARAMAEAN LANGUAGE; SEE CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTIONS. The two words, Babylonia and Chaldaea, were, however, sometimes used in another signification; Babylonia, as containing in an extended sense Assyria also and Mesopotamia, nearly all the countries which Assyria in its widest meaning embraced; while Chaldaea indicated, in a narrower signification, the south-western part of Babylonia between the Euphrates and Babylon (Strabo, 16; Ptol.). In Hebrew, Babylonia bore the name of SHINAR SEE SHINAR (q.v.), or "the land of Shinar;" while "Babylon" (Ps 137:1) and "the land of the Chaldaeans" (Jer 24:5; Eze 12:13) seem to signify the empire of Babylon. It is in the latter sense that we shall here treat it. SEE CHALDAEANS.
I. Geography and general Description. — This province of Middle Asia was bordered on the north by Mesopotamia, on the east by the Tigris, on the south by the Persian Gulf, and on the west by the Arabian Desert. On the north it began at the point where the Euphrates and Tigris approach each other, and extended to their common outlet in the Persian Gulf, pretty nearly comprising the country now designated Irak Arabi. The climate is temperate and salubrious. The country in ancient times was very prolific, especially in corn and palms. Timber-trees it did not produce. Many parts have springs of naphtha. As rain is infrequent, even in the winter months, the country owes its fruitfulness to the annual overflow of the Euphrates and the Tigris, whose waters are conveyed over the land by means of canals. Quintus Curtius (i. 5) declares that the country between the Euphrates and the Tigris was covered with so rich a soil that the cattle were driven from their pastures lest they should be destroyed by satiety and fatness. During the three great empires of the East, no tract of the whole appears to have been so reputed for fertility and riches as the district of Babylonia, which arose in the main from the proper management of the mighty river which flowed through it. Herodotus mentions that, when reduced to the rank of a province, it yielded a revenue to the kings of Persia which comprised half their income. The terms in which the Scriptures describe its natural as well as its acquired supremacy when it was the imperial city, evidence the same facts. They call it "Babylon, the glory of kingdoms; the beauty of the Chaldee excellency; the lady of kingdoms, given to pleasure; that dwelleth carelessly, and sayeth in her heart I am, and there is none else beside me." But now, in the expressive and inimitable language of the same book, may it be said, "She sits as a widow on the ground. There is no more a throne for thee, O daughter of the Chaldaeans!" As for the abundance of the country, it has vanished as clean away as if "the besom of desolation" had swept it from north to south, the whole land, from the outskirts of Bagdad to the farthest reach of sight, lying a melancholy waste.
In order to defend the country against hostile attacks from its neighbors, northward from Babylonia, between the two rivers, a wall was built, which is known under the name of the Median Wall (Xen. Anab. 2:4,12). — The Babylonians were famous for the manufacture of cloth and carpets; they also excelled in making perfumes, in carving in wood, and in working in precious stones. They were a commercial as well as manufacturing people, and carried on a very extensive trade alike by land and by sea. Babylon was indeed a commercial depot between the Eastern and the Western worlds (Eze 17:4; Isa 43:14). SEE COMMERCE. Thus favored by nature and aided by art, Babylonia became the first abode of social order and the cradle of civilization. Here first arose a powerful empire-here astronomy was first cultivated here measures and weights were first employed. Herodotus has noticed the Chaldaeans as a tribe of priests (i. 28); Diodorus (i. 28) as a separate caste under Belus, an Egyptian priest; while the book of Daniel refers to them as astrologers, magicians, and soothsayers; but there can be little doubt, as laid down by Gesenius (Jesa. 23:13), that it was the name of a distinct nation, if not, as Heeren (Manual of Anc. Hist. p. 28) has maintained, the name of the northern nomades in general. In connection with Babylonia, the Chaldaeans are to be regarded as a conquering nation as well as a learned people; they introduced a correct method of reckoning time, and began their reign with Nabonassar, B.C. 747. There is a scriptural reference to the proud period in the history of the Chaldees when learned men filled the streets and the temples of Nineveh and Babel: "' Behold the land of the Chaldaeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin" (Isa 23:13). Babylonia, during this period, was "the land of the Chaldaeans," the same as that into which the children of Judah were carried away captive (Jer 24:5). SEE CAPTIVITY.
II. History of the Babylonian Empire. — The history of Babylon itself mounts up to a time not very much later than the Flood. SEE BABEL. The native historian seems to have possessed authentic records of his country for above 2000 years before the conquest by Alexander (Berosus, Fragm. 11); and Scripture represents the "beginning of the kingdom" as belonging to the time of Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and the great-grandson of Noah (Ge 10:6-10). Of Nimrod no trace has been found in the Babylonian remains, unless he is identical with the god Bel of the Babylonian Pantheon, and so with the Greek Belus, the hero-founder of the city. This identity is possible, and at any rate the most ancient inscriptions appear to show that the primitive inhabitants of the country were really Cushite, i.e. identical in race with the early inhabitants of Southern Arabia and of Ethiopia. The seat of government at this early time was, as has been stated, in lower Babylonia, Erech (Warka) and Ur (Mugheir) being the capitals, and Babylon (if built) being a place of no consequence. The country was called Shinar (שַׁנעָד), Akkadim (comp. Accad of Ge 10:10). Of the art of this period we have specimens in the ruins of Mugheir and Warka, the remains of which date from at least the 20th century before our era. We find the use of kiln-baked as well as of sun-dried bricks already begun; we find writing practiced, for the bricks are stamped with the names and titles of the kings; we find buttresses employed to support buildings, and we have probable indications of the system of erecting lofty buildings in stages. On the other hand, mortar is unknown, and the bricks are laid either in clay or in bitumen (comp. Ge 11:3); they are rudely moulded, and of various shapes and sizes; sun-dried bricks predominate, and some large buildings are composed entirely of them; in these reed- matting occurs at intervals, apparently used to protect the mass from disintegration. There is no trace of ornament in the erections of this date, which were imposing merely by their size and solidity.
The first important change which we are able to trace in the external condition of Babylon is its subjection, at a time anterior to Abraham, by the neighboring kingdom of Elam or Susiana. Berosus spoke of a first Chaldean dynasty consisting of eleven kings, whom he probably represented as reigning from B.C. 2234 to B.C. 1976. At the last mentioned date he said there was a change, and a new dynasty succeeded, consisting of 49 kings, who reigned 458 years (from B.C. 1976 to B.C. 1518). It is thought that this transition may mark the invasion of Babylonia from the East, and the establishment of Eiamitic influence in the country, under Chedorlaomer (Genesis 14), whose representative appears as a conqueror in the inscriptions. Amraphel, king of Shinar, and Arioch, king of Ellasar (Larsa), would be tributary princes whom Chedorlaomer had subjected, while he himself may have become the founder of the new dynasty, which, according to Berosus, continued on the throne for above 450 years. From this point the history of Babylon is almost a blank for above twelve centuries. Except in the mention of the plundering, of Job by the Chaldaeans (Job 1:17), and of the "goodly Babylonish garment" which Achan coveted (Jos 7:21), Scripture is silent with regard to the Babylonians from the time of Abraham to that of Hezekiah. Berosus covered this space with three dynasties; one (which has been already mentioned) of 49 Chaldaean kings, who reigned 458 years; another of 9 Arab kings, who reigned 245 years; and a third of 49 Assyrian monarchs, who held dominion for 526 years; but nothing beyond this bare outline has come down to us on his authority concerning the period in question. The monumental records of the country furnish a series of names, the reading of which is very uncertain, which may be arranged with a good deal of probability in chronological order, apparently belonging to the first of these three dynasties. Of the second no traces have been hitherto discovered. The third would seem to be identical with the Upper Dynasty of Assyria, of which some account has been given in the article ASSYRIA SEE ASSYRIA. It would appear, then, as if Babylon, after having a native Chaldaean dynasty which ruled for 224 years (Brandis, p. 17), and a second dynasty of Elamitic Chaldeans who ruled for a further period of 458 years, fell wholly under Semitic influence, becoming subject first to Arabia for two centuries and a half, and then to Assyria for above five centuries, and not regaining even a qualified independence till the time marked by the close of the Upper and the formation of the Lower Assyrian empire. This is the conclusion which seems naturally to follow from the abstract which is all that we possess of Berosus; and doubtless it is to a certain extent true. But the statement is too broad to be exact; and the monuments show that Babylon was at no time absorbed into Assyria, or even for very many years together a submissive vassal. Assyria, which she had colonized during the time of the second or great Chaldaean dynasty, to which she had given letters and the arts, and which she had held in subjection for many hundred years, became in her turn (about B.C. 1270) the predominant Mesopotamian power, and the glory of Babylon in consequence suffered eclipse. But she had her native kings during the whole of the Assyrian period, and she frequently contended with her great neighbor, being sometimes even the aggressor. Though much sunk from her former greatness, she continued to be the second power in Asia, and retained a vitality which at a later date enabled her to become once more the head of an empire.
The line of Babylonian kings becomes exactly known to us from the year B.C. 747. An astronomical work of the geographer Ptolemy has preserved to us a document, the importance of which for comparative chronology it is scarcely possible to exaggerate. The Canon of Ptolemy, as it is called, gives us the succession of Babylonian monarchs, with the exact length of the reign of each, from the year B.C. 747, when Nabonassar mounted the throne, to B.C. 331, when the last Persian king was dethroned by Alexander. This document, which, from its close accordance with the statements of Scripture, always vindicated to itself a high authority in the eyes of Christian chronologers, has recently been confirmed in so many points by the inscriptions that its authentic character is established beyond all possibility of cavil or dispute. As the basis of all accurate calculation for Oriental dates previous to Cyrus, it seems proper to transcribe the earlier portion of it in this place. [The accessions are given according to the aera of Nabonassar, and dates B.C. are added for convenience sake.]
Kings Years. AE.N. B.C.
Nabonassar Nadius Chinzinus and Porus Elulaeus Mardocempalus Arceanus First interregnum Belibus Aparanadius Regibelus Mesesimordacus Second interregnum Asaridanus Saosduchinus Cinneladanus Nabopolassar Nebuchadnezzar Illoarudamus Nerigassolassarus Nabonadius Cyrus 14 1 2 15 5 17 5 22 12 27 5 39 2 44 3 46 6 49 1 55 4 56 8 60 13 68 20 81 22 101 21 123 43 144 2 187 4 189 17 193 9 210 747 733 731 726 721 709 704 702 699 693 692 688 680 667 647 625 604 531 559 555 538
Of Nabonassar, the first king in Ptolemy's list, nothing can be said to be known except the fact, reported by Berosus, that he destroyed all the annals of his predecessors for the purpose of compelling the Babylonians to date from himself (Fragm. 11 a). It has been conjectured that he was the husband or son of Semiramis, and owed to her his possession of the throne. But of this theory there is at present no proof. It rests mainly upon a synchronism obtained from Herodotus, who makes Semiramis a Babylonian queen, and places her five generations (167 years) before Nitocris, the mother of the last king. The Assyrian discoveries have shown that there was a Semiramis about this time, but they furnish no evidence of her connection with Babylon, which still continues uncertain. The immediate successors of Nabonassar are still more obscure than himself. Absolutely nothing beyond the brief notation of the canon has reached us concerning Nadius (or Nabius), Chinzinus (or Chinzirus), and Porus, or Elulaeus, who certainly cannot be the Tyrian king of that name mentioned by Menander (ap. Joseph. Ant. 9, 14, 2). Mardocempalus, on the contrary, is a monarch to whom great interest attaches. He is undoubtedly the Merodach-Baladan, or Berodach-Baladan (q.v.) of Scripture, and was a personage of great consequence, reigning himself twice, the first time for 12 years, contemporaneously with the Assyrian king Sargon, and the second time for six months only, during the first year of Sennacherib; and leaving a sort of hereditary claim to his sons and grandsons, who are found to have been engaged in hostilities with Essarhaddon and his successor. His dealings with Hezekiah sufficiently indicate the independent position of Babylon at this period, while the interest which he felt in an astronomical phenomenon (2Ch 32:31) harmonizes with the character of a native Chaldaean king which appears to belong to him. The Assyrian inscriptions show that after reigning 12 years Merodach-Baladan was deprived of his crown and driven into banishment by Sargon, who appears to have placed Arceanus (his son?) upon the throne as viceroy, a position which he maintained for five years. A time of trouble then ensued, estimated in the canon at two years, during which various pretenders assumed the crown, among them a certain Hagisa, or Acises, who reigned for about a month, and Merodach-Baladan, who held the throne for half a year (Polyhist. ap. Euseb.). Sennacherib, bent on re-establishing the influence of Assyria over Babylon, proceeded against Merodach-Bala-dan (as he informs us) in his first year, and having dethroned him, placed an Assyrian named Belib, or Belibus, upon the throne, who ruled as his viceroy for three years. At the end of this time, the party of Merodach- Baladan still giving trouble, Sennacherib descended again into Babylonia, once more overran it, removed Belib, and placed his eldest son — who appears in the canon as Aparanadius — upon the throne. Aparanadius rejoined for six years, when he was succeeded by a certain Regibelus, who reigned for one year; after which Mesesimordacus held the throne for four years. Nothing more is known of these kings, and it is uncertain whether they were viceroys or independent native monarchs. They were contemporary with Sennacherib, to whose reign belongs also the second interregnum, extending to eight years, which the canon interposes between the reigns of Mesesimordacus and Asaridanus. In Asaridanus critical eyes long ago detected Esarhaddon, Sennacherib's son and successor; and it may be regarded as certain from the inscriptions that this king ruled in person over both Babylonia and Assyria, holding his court alternately at their respective capitals. Hence we may understand how Manasseh, his contemporary, came to be "carried by the captains of the king of Assyria to Babylon" instead of to Nineveh, as would have been done in any other reign. SEE ESARHADDON. Saosduchinus and Ciniladanus (or Cinneladanus), his brother (Polyhist.), the successors of Asaridanus, are kings of whose history we know nothing. Probably they were viceroys under the later Assyrian monarchs, who are represented by Abydenus (ap. Euseb.) as retaining their authority over Babylon up to the time of the last siege of Nineveh.
With Nabopolassar, the successor of Cinneladanus, and the father of Nebuchadnezzar, a new era in the history of Babylon commences. According to Abydenus, who probably drew his information from Berosus, he was appointed to the government of Babylon by the last Assyrian king, at the moment when the Medes were about to make their final attack; whereupon, betraying the trust reposed in him, he went over to the enemy, arranged a marriage between his son Nebuchadnezzar and the daughter of the Median leader, and joined in the last siege of the city. See NINEVEH. On the success of the confederates (B.C. 625) Babylon became not only an independent kingdom, but an empire; the southern and western portions of the Assyrian territory were assigned to Nabopolassar in the partition of the spoils which followed on the conquest, and thereby the Babylonian dominion became extended over the whole valley of the Euphrates as far as the Taurus range, over Syria, Phoenicia, Palestine, Idumaea, and (perhaps) a portion of Egypt. Thus, among others, the Jews passed quietly and almost without remark from one feudal head to another, exchanging dependency on Assyria for dependency on Babylon, and continuing to pay to Nabopolassar the same tribute and service which they had previously rendered to the Assyrians. Friendly relations seem to have been maintained with Media throughout the reign of Nabopolassar, who led or sent a contingent to help Cyaxares in his Lydian war, and acted as mediator in the negotiations by which that war was concluded (Herod. i, 74). At a later date hostilities broke out with Egypt. Necho, the son of Psamatik I, about the year B.C. 608 invaded the Babylonian dominions on the south-west, and made himself master of the entire tract between his own country and the Euphrates (2Ki 23:29; 2Ki 24:7). Nabopolassar was now advanced in life, and not able to take the field in person (Beros. Frag. 14). He therefore sent his son, Nebuchadnezzar, at the head of a large army, against the Egyptians, and the battle of Carchemish, which soon followed, restored to Babylon the former limits of her territory (comp. 2Ki 24:7 with Jer 46:2-12). Nebuchadnezzar pressed forward and had reached Egypt, when news of his father's death recalled him, and hastily returning to Babylon, he was fortunate enough to find himself, without any struggle, acknowledged king (B.C. 604).
A complete account of the works and exploits of this great monarch — by far the most remarkable of all the Babylonian kings — will be given in the article SEE NEBUCHADNEZZAR. It is enough to note in this place that he was great both in peace and in war, but greater in the former. Besides recovering the possession of Syria and Palestine, and carrying off the Jews after repeated rebellions into captivity, he reduced Phoenicia, besieged and took Tyre, and ravaged, if he did not actually conquer, Egypt. But it was as the adorner and beautifier of his native land — as the builder and restorer of almost all her cities and temples — that this monarch obtained that great reputation which has handed down his name traditionally in the East on a par with those of Nimrod, Solomon, and Alexander, and made it still a familiar term in the mouths of the people. Probably no single man ever left behind him as his memorial upon the earth one half the amount of building that was erected by this king. The ancient ruins and the modern towns of Babylonia are alike built almost exclusively of his bricks. Babylon itself, the capital, was peculiarly the object of his attention. It was here that, besides repairing the walls and restoring the temples, he constructed that magnificent palace, which, with its triple enclosure, its hanging gardens, its plated pillars, and its rich ornamentation of enamelled brick, was regarded in ancient times as one of the seven wonders of the world (Strab. 16:1, § 5).
Nebuchadnezzar died B.C. 561, having reigned 43 years, and was succeeded by Evil-Merodach, his son, who is called in the Canon Illoarudamus. This prince, who, "in the year that he began to reign, did lift up the head of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, out of prison" (2Ki 25:27), was murdered, after having held the crown for two years only, by Neriglissar, his brother-in-law. SEE EVIL-MERODACH. Neriglissar — the Nerigassolassar of the Canon — is (apparently) identical with the "Nergal- shar-ezer, Rab-Mag" of Jeremiah (39:3, 13, 14). He bears this title, which has been translated "chief of the Magi" (Gesenius), or "chief priest" (Colossians Rawlinson), in the inscriptions, and calls himself the son of a "king of Babylon." Some writers have considered him identical with "Darius the Mede" (Larcher, Conringius, Bouhier); but this is improbable,
SEE DARIUS THE MEDE, and he must rather be regarded as a Babylonian of high rank, who, having married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, raised his thoughts to the crown, and finding Evil- Merodach unpopular with his subjects, murdered him, and became his successor. Neriglissar built the palace at Babylon, which seems to have been placed originally on the west bank of the river. He was probably advanced in life at his accession, and thus reigned but four years, though he died a natural death, and left the crown to his son Laborosoarchod. This prince, though a mere lad at the time of his father's decease, was allowed to ascend the throne without difficulty; but when he had reigned nine months he became the victim of a conspiracy among his friends and connections, who, professing to detect in him symptoms of a bad disposition, seized him, and tortured him to death. Nabonidus (or Labynetus), one of the conspirators, succeeded; he is called by Berosus "a certain Nabonidus, a Babylonian" (ap. Joseph. Ap. 1:21), by which it would appear that he was not a member of the royal family; and this is likewise evident from his inscriptions, in which he only claims for his father the rank of "Rab-Mag." Herodotus seems to have been mistaken in supposing him (i. 188) the son of a great queen, Nitocris, and (apparently) of a former king, Labynetus (Nebuchadnezzar?). Indeed, it may be doubted whether the Babylonian Nitocris of Herodotus is really a historical personage. His authority is the sole argument for her existence, which it is difficult to credit against the silence of Scripture, Berosus, the Canon, and the Babylonian monuments. She may perhaps have been the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, but in that case she must have been wholly unconnected with Nabonidus, who certainly bore no relation to that monarch.
Nabonidus, or Labynetus (as he was called by the Greeks), mounted the throne in the year B.C. 555, very shortly before the war broke out between Cyrus and Croesus. He entered into alliance with the latter of these monarchs against the former, and, had the struggle been prolonged, would have sent a contingent into Asia Minor. Events proceeded too rapidly to allow of this; but Nabonidus had provoked the hostility of Cyrus by the mere fact of the alliance, and felt at once that sooner or later he would have to resist the attack of an avenging army. He probably employed his long and peaceful reign of 17 years in preparations against the dreaded foe, executing the defensive works which Herodotus ascribes to his mother (i. 185), and accumulating in the town abundant stores of provisions (ib. c. 190). In the year B.C. 539 the attack came. Cyrus advanced at the head of his irresistible hordes, but wintered upon the Diyaleh or Gyndes, making his final approaches in the ensuing spring. Nabonidus appears by the inscriptions to have shortly before this associated with him in the government of the kingdom his son, Bel-shar-ezer or Belshazzar; on the approach of Cyrus, therefore, he took the field himself at the head of his army, leaving his son to command in the city. In this way, by help of a recent discovery, the accounts of Berosus and the book of Daniel — hitherto regarded as hopelessly conflicting — may be reconciled. SEE BELSHAZZAR. Nabonidus engaged the army of Cyrus, but was defeated and forced to shut himself up in the neighboring town of Borsippa (marked now by the Birs-Nimrud), where he continued till after the fall of Babylon (Beros. ap. Joseph. Ap. 1:21). Belshazzar guarded the city, but, over- confident in its strength, kept insufficient watch, and recklessly indulging in untimely and impious festivities (Daniel 5), allowed the enemy to enter the town by the channel of the river (Herod. 1:191; Xen. Cyrop. 7:7). Babylon was thus taken by a surprise, as Jeremiah had prophesied (Jer 51:31) — by an army of Medes and Persians, as intimated 170 years earlier by Isaiah (Isa 21:1-9), and, as Jeremiah had also foreshown (Jer 51:39), during a festival. In the carnage which ensued upon the taking of the town, Belshazzar was slain (Da 5:30). Nabonidus, on receiving the intelligence, submitted, and was treated kindly by the conqueror, who not only spared his life, but gave him estates in Carmania (Beros. ut sup.; comp. Abyd. Fragm. 9).
Such is the general outline of the siege and capture of Babylon by Cyrus, as derivable from the fragments of Berosus, illustrated by the account in Daniel, and reduced to harmony by aid of the important fact, obtained recently from the monuments, of the relationship between Belshazzar and Nabonidus. It is scarcely necessary to remark that it differs in many points from the accounts of Herodotus and Xenophon; but the latter of these two writers is in his Cyropaedia a mere romancer, and the former is very imperfectly acquainted with the history of the Babylonians. The native writer, whose information was drawn from authentic and contemporary documents, is far better authority than either of the Greek authors, the earlier of whom visited Babylon nearly a century after its capture by Cyrus, when the tradition had doubtless become in many respects corrupted.
According to the book of Daniel, it would seem as if Babylon was taken on this occasion, not by Cyrus, king of Persia, but by a Median king named Darius (5:31). The question of the identity of this personage with any Median or Babylonian king known to us from profane sources will be discussed under DARIUS THE MEDE SEE DARIUS THE MEDE. It need only be remarked here that: Scripture does not really conflict on this point with profane authorities, since there is sufficient indication, from the terms used by the sacred writer, that "Darius the Mede," whoever he may have been, was not the real conqueror, nor a king who ruled in his own right, but a monarch intrusted by another with a certain delegated authority (see Da 5:31; Da 9:1).
With the conquest by Cyrus commenced the decay and ruin of Babylon. The "broad walls" were then to some extent "broken down" (Beros. Fr. 14), and the "high gates" probably "burnt with fire" (Jer 51:58). The defences, that is to say, were ruined; though it is not to be supposed that the laborious and useless task of entirely demolishing the gigantic fortifications of the place was attempted or even contemplated by the conqueror. Babylon was weakened, but it continued a royal residence not only during the lifetime of Darius the Mede, but through the entire period of the Persian empire. The Persian kings held their court at Babylon during the larger portion of the year, and at the time of Alexander's conquests it was still the second, if not the first city of the empire. It had, however, suffered considerably on more than one occasion subsequent to the time of Cyrus. Twice in the reign of Darius (Behist. Ins.), and once in that of Xerxes (Ctes. Pers. § 22), it had risen against the Persians, and made an effort to regain its independence. After each rebellion its defences were weakened, and during the long period of profound peace which the Persian empire enjoyed from the reign of Xerxes to that of Darius Codomannus they were allowed to go completely to decay. The public buildings also suffered grievously from neglect. Alexander found the great temple of Belus in so ruined a condition that it would have required the labor of 10,000 men for two months even to clear away the rubbish with which it was encumbered (Strabo, 16:1, 5). His designs for the restoration of the temple and the general embellishment of the city were frustrated by his untimely death, and the removal of the seat of empire to Antioch under the Seleucidae gave the finishing blow to the prosperity of the place. The great city of Seleucia, which soon after arose in its neighborhood, not only drew away its population, but was actually constructed of materials derived from its buildings (Pliny H. N. 6:30). Since then Babylon has been a quarry from which all the tribes in the vicinity have perpetually derived the bricks with which they have built their cities, and (besides Seleucia) Ctesiphon, Al-
Modain, Bagdad, Kufa, Kerbelah, Hillah, and numerous other towns, have risen from its ruins. The "great city," "the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency," has thus emphatically "become heaps" (Jer 51:37) — she is truly "an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant." Her walls have altogether disappeared — they have "fallen" (Jer 51:44), been "thrown down" (Jer 50:15), been "broken utterly" (Jer 51:58). "A drought is upon her waters" (Jer 50:39); for the system of irrigation, on which, in Babylonia, fertility altogether depends, has long been laid aside; "her cities" are everywhere "a desolation" (Jer 51:43), her "land a wilderness;" "wild beasts of the desert" (jackals) "lie there," and "owls dwell there" (comp. Layard, Nin. and Bab. p. 484, with Isa 13:21-22, and Jer 50:39): the natives regard the whole site as haunted, and neither will the "Arab pitch tent nor the shepherd fold sheep there." After the exile many of the Jews continued settled in Babylonia; the capital even contained an entire quarter of them (comp. Susann. 1:5 sq.; 1Pe 5:13; Josephus, Ant. 20:2, 2; 15:3, 1; 18:9, 1; Philo, Opp. 2:578, 587); and after the destruction of Jerusalem these Babylonian Jews established schools of considerable repute, although the natives were stigmatized as "Babylonians" by the bigoted Jewish population (Talm. Babyl. Joma, fol. 66). Traces of their learning exist not only in much rabbinical literature that emanated from these now extinct schools, but M. Layard has recently discovered several earthen bowls covered with their Hebrew inscriptions in an early character, copies and translations of which are given in his Bab. and Nin. p. 436 sq.
III. Literature. — On the history, see Niebuhr's Geschichte Asshur's und Babel's; Brandis's Rerum Assyriarum Tempora Emendata; Bosanquet's Sacred and Profane Chronology; and Rawlinson's Herodotus, vol. 1, Essays 6 and 8. Compare also the Am. Biblical Repository, April, 1836, p. 364-368; July, 1836, p. 158185; Jour. Sac. Literature, July, 1860, p. 492 sq.; Rollin, Anc. Hist. 2:54 etc.; Prideaux, Connection, 1:51 etc.; Heeren, Ideen, I, 2:172 sq.; Cellarii Notit. 2:746 sq.; Norberg, Opusc. acad. 3, 222 sq.; Kesler, Historia excidii Babyl. (Tubing. 1766); Bredow, Untersuchungen ub. alt. Gesch. (Altona, 1800); Jour. Roy. As. Soc. (Lond. 1855), xv, pt. 2, and Maps accompanying it. SEE BABYLON.