She'shach (Heb. Seshak', שֵׁשִׁך, probably an artificial word; Sept. Σεσάκ v.r. Σησάχ), a term occurring only in Jeremiah (25:26; 51:41) who evidently uses it as a synonym either for Babylon or for Babylonia. According to the Jewish interpreters, followed by Jerome, it represents בבל, "Babel, " on a Cabalistic principle called "Athbash" well known to the later Jews the substitution of letters according to their position in the alphabet, counting backwards from the last letter, for those which hold the same numerical position counting in the ordinary way. SEE CABALA. Thus ת represents א, שׁ represents ב, ר represents ג, and so on. It may well be doubted, however, whether this fanciful practice were as old as Jeremiah's time; and even supposing that were the case, why should he use this obscure term here, when Babylon is called by its proper name in the same verse? C.B. Michaelis conjectures that שׁשׁ comes from שׁבשׁ, shikshak, "to overlay with iron or other plates, "so that it might designate Babylon as χαλκόπυλος. Von Bohlen thinks the word synonymous with the Persian Shih-shah, i.e. "house of the prince;" but it is doubtful whether, at so early a period as the age of Jeremiah, Babylon could have received a Persian name that would be known in Judea. Sir H. Rawlinson has observed that the name of the moon god, which was identical, or nearly so, with that of the city of Abraham Ur (or Hur), "might have been read in one of the ancient dialects of Babylon as Shishaki, " and that consequently "a possible explanation is thus obtained of the Sheshach of Scripture" (Herod. 1, 616). Shesach may stand for Ur; Ur itself, the old capital, being taken (as Babel, the new capital, constantly was) to represent the country.

Bible concordance for SHESHACH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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