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Friday, June 20, 2014

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Chapters 50 and 51 are one prophecy against the Babylonian Chaldean Empire.  The Chaldeans were the descendants of Chesed, a son of Nahor and Milcah (Genesis 22:22).  The English word “Chaldeans” came from the Greek Chaldaioi. They spoke Aramaic which Daniel had to learn while in captivity, and which Ezra and Nehemiah spoke when they and others returned home to Palestine.

Interestingly, both the Babylonians and the Israelites were descendants of Eber (Genesis 10:25) and were called ‘Ibri “Hebrews” (Eber, ending with i).  The God of the Bible is “the God of the Hebrews” (Gen 14:13; Exod 3:18). 

In the time of Abraham, there were few believers in the God of the Hebrews. A few generations later at the time of Job the Chaldeans plundered Job’s possessions (Job 1:17). They conquered the land of Mesopotamia, and made the old city of Babylon their capital. They adopted the religion of Babylon and worshiped the god “Melodach” (v. 2).  

There is an interesting history about the name of the city Babylon.  When the Sumerians built the towers and cities, they called a city with the brick-made tower, Ka-dingirra which means “gate of god.”  Later, the Akkadians who conquered this city called it Bab-ili which also means “gate of god,” similar to the “gate of the heavens” which we have in Genesis 28:17.  After the language confusion, the city was called Babel “because Jehovah had mixed up the speech of all the land, and Jehovah scattered them on the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).   

The return of Israel from their Babylonian exile was prophesied to happen after the Babylonian Empire fell (v. 4) and was taken over by the Medes and Persians. In the Bible Jeremiah uses the name “Babylon” more than anyone else, and says, “Babylon that took Jerusalem will be taken.” Isaiah says, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen” (Isaiah 21:9). Then Jeremiah emphasizes it when he says, “Babylon is suddenly fallen” (Jeremiah 51:8).  

The reasons for the fall of ancient Babylon was its idol worship (v. 2), and pride in its power. But the city fell and became a heap (v.37). This prophecy is echoed in the New Testament, “Babylon the great is fallen” (Revelation 18:2). It is because of its false worship and pride.

Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D., Japan