Ancient Babylonian History

Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city." Thus cried the prophet Jeremiah in the later days of the mighty city's splendor. "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand, that made all the earth drunken.. O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come." These also are the words of the Bible. We could almost tell the whole story of Babylon in quotations from the sacred volume. The Hebrew prophets return again and again to speak of the greatness of the city, its wealth, its size, its influence upon all the peoples of the earth. Some of them had seen Babylon with their own eyes, and were astounded and almost overwhelmed by its magnificence and opulence. Only their boundless faith in the word of their God leads them to assert that such greatness can be destroyed.

In the days of the prophets, Babylon had become the most populous city the world has ever known. Twenty million inhabitants is the estimate of some authorities. Modern London would be a village beside it. Rome, "Imperial Rome," would have been lost in one of its quarters. It stood astride the great river Euphrates, as modern cities span some little stream. Huge canals stretched through it in all directions. And its walls! They were classed by the ancients among the seven wonders of the world. Herodotus, who had seen them set their width at eighty-four feet and their height at over three hundred. This seemed so amazing that his own people doubted his figures, and later ages have done the same. Yet we now learn that, in part at least, he understated. The ruins of the walls have been found, and by actual measurement their width was one hundred and thirty-six and a half feet. Their height has crumbled forever; that, too, may have been greater than we think. Fifteen miles square was the space enclosed by this tremendous artificial mountain, this cliff three hundred feet in height. The suburbs of the city spread to unmeasured distances beyond.

The prophets never cease wondering about those walls. How shall foe ever surmount them, or time destroy them? Jeremiah's climax to a long list of threatened desolations is: "Yes, the wall of Babylon shall fall." He expresses his amazement constantly in such exclamations as: "The broad walls of Babylon!" Yet, so complete was the devastation of the city that sixty years ago men could not even say where Babylon had stood.

It was built by those Semites settling to the north of Sumer. Indeed we can gain from the splendor of Babylon some idea of those earlier Sumerian cities at which we have already glanced. Nippur and Eridu, Erech and Lagash have perished. They were desolated more than once by foreign conquerors, and their records were destroyed with them, except for the few chance fragments which, having escaped both flame and robbery, are now being rediscovered amid their ruins. Hence both the glories and the sorrows of Sumer faded from men's minds. No one of the men or cities of our previous chapter remained in the memory of later generations. But then came Babylon; and men have not forgotten her.

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Read about Ancient Babylonian History in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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