Significance of Babylon?


#1

As many bible readers know, “Babylon” Babylonian civilization is mentioned frequently in the bible, almost always in an unfavorable way.

There is a “Babylonian Captivity” where the Hebrews are kept in Babylon (Northern Iraq?) for a long period of time, and there is some terrible beast called the “Whore of Babylon” which will come during the apocolypse. Some Protestant pastors on the internet talk about some unique force of evil called “Mystery Babylon.”

Im sure there are plenty more examples of negative Babylon imagery.

There is definitely the sense in scripture that Babylon was a uniquely sinful and ungodly society. Was there any truth or basis to this premise, or was it just colored by the Hebrews being poorly treated by them for so long?

I’ve read a bit about ancient Babylon and can see why the Hebrews might come to that conclusion. It seems there pretty much zero sexual taboos, and the names of many demons in the new testament (beelzebub, asomodeus, pazuzu, etc.) were originally babylonian/mesoptamian gods.

All that aside, ancient Bablyon seems to have had a lot going for it: advanced philosophy,mathematics and literature (the epic of gilgamesh is quite interesting.)

Im not so sure they were that bad by the standards of ancient civilizations. Certainly not compared with civilizations like the Roman Empire or the Aztecs.

Thoughts?


#2

I’m sure that if the Aztecs or Romans had lived in the area, the stories would have been about them. At the time, Rome couldn’t get around as well as it did closer to 500-100 BCE because there famous network of roads hadn’t been built yet.


#3

Here’s the thing: the empires of Mesopotamia - of which Babylon was a part - was one of the superpowers in the Ancient Near East at the time. (The other one is Egypt.) Babylon was in fact the largest city in the world from c. 1770 to 1670 BC, and again between c. 612 and 320 BC.

Both superpowers - Egypt, Mesopotamia - already influenced Canaan even before the Israelites came. When Israel became a thing, there was already a kind of Egyptian-Mesopotamian influence on the local cultures, and soon the Israelites themselves came under this influence (not always for the better).

The reason why ‘Babylon’ and Egypt have a sort of bad rap in the OT is precisely because of that: they’re big empires in contrast to Israel and Judah, which are really small countries which were in between and thus, often came under the orbit of these two nations. They’re figuratively and literally caught in the middle, so to speak, which led to a lot of difficulties when Egypt and the Mesopotamian empires fought with one another.

(For example, The king of Judah can either choose to side with say, the Mesopotamians or the Egyptians in the conflict, but either way, the enemy empire is going to attack Judah, and because Judah is small, the damage can cripple the country. That’s actually one of the factors that eventually led to the Babylonian Exile: the kings of Judah continually switched sides between Egypt and Babylon, depending on who was gaining the upper hand at the moment. It just so happened that Judah was on the wrong side in the 590s-80s BC.)


#4

Didn’t Ezra go to his people and teach them about the Talmud after the Babylonian Captivity? He was both a priest and a prophet.


#5

God permitted the Babylon to take the people from Judah because thry broke his covenant yet again… From what i understand it was far worse for them when they were in Egypt. So much so that when the king decided to send them home from Babylon many stayed there. As far as the Whore evangelist feel its the church, but reely there is no clear answer. Many say ancient Rome or Jeruselem.


#6

The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnez’zar, made the Jewish Prophet Daniel head over his house and second in the kingdom.

God used Babylon as a weapon against Jerusalem.

-Tim-


#7

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