Babylon

Foreword:  When we study the Bible thoroughly,  it  is often necessary to examine the cultures that existed during Old Testament and New Testament times.    Specifically those histories that intersect those of the Israelites.  In the case of Babylon, this was a pagan nation used by God to apply discipline to the Southern Kingdom. Where is Babylon?  What are its roots?  What happened to the nation?  These topics are addressed in this article.  Don’t forget to sign up for our eNews and keep up to date on whats happening at Grace Notes.

From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Babylon baʹbə-lon; BABEL bāʹbəl (Gen. 10:10; 11:9) [Heb bābel—‘gate of god’; Akk bāb–ili, bāb-ilāni—‘gate of god(s)’; Gk Babylōn; Pers Babirush]. The capital city of Babylonia.

I. Location

Babylon lay on the bank of the Euphrates in the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:10), in the northern area of Babylonia (now southern Iraq) called Accad (as opposed to the southern area called Sumer). Its ruins, covering 2100 acres (890 hectares), lie about 50 mi (80 km) S of Baghdad and 5 mi 8 (km) N of Hillah. The ancient site is now marked by the mounds of Bâbil to the north, Qaṣr (“the Citadel”) in the center, and Merkes, ‘Amran Ibn ‘Alī Ṣaḥn, and Homera to the south. The high water and long flooding of the whole area render the earlier and lower ruins inaccessible.

II. Name

The oldest attested extrabiblical name is the Sumerian ká-dingir-ki (usually written ká-dingir-ra, “gate of god”). This may have been atranslation of the more commonly used later Babylonian Bāb-ilī, of which an etymology based on Heb bālal, “confused,” is given in Gen 11:9. Throughout the OT and NT, Babylon stands theologically for the community that is anti-God. Rarely from 2100 b.c. and frequently in the 7th cent Babylon is called TIN.TIR.KI, “wood (trees) of life,” and from the latter period also. E.KI, “canal zone (?).” Other names applied to at least part of the city were ŠU.AN.NA, “hand of heaven” or “high-walled (?),” and the Heb šēšaḵ (Jer. 25:26; 51:41), which is usually interpreted as a coded form (Athbash) by which š = b, etc. The proposed equation with ŠEŠ.KU in a late king list has been questioned, since this could be read equally well as (É).URU.KU.

III. Early History

A. Foundation Genesis ascribes the foundation of the city to Nimrod prior to his building of Erech (ancient Uruk, modern Warka) and Accad (Agade), which can be dated to the 4th and 3rd millennia b.c. respectively. The earliest written reference extant is by Šar-kali-šarri of Agade ca 2250 b.c., who claimed to have (re)built the temple of Anunītum and carried out other restorations, thus indicating an earlier foundation. A later omen text states that Sargon (Šarrukīn I) of Agade (ca 2300) had plundered the city.

B. Old Babylonian Period Šulgi of Ur captured Babylon and placed there his governor (ensi), Itur-ilu, a practice followed by his successors in the Ur III Dynasty (ca [5 highlights]2150–2050 [5 highlights]b.c.). Thereafter invading Semites, the Amorites of the 1st Dynasty of Babylon, took over the city. Their first ruler Sumu-abum restored the city wall. Though few remains of this time survive the inundation of the river, Hammurabi in the Prologue to his laws (ca 1750) recalls how he had maintained Esagila (the temple of Marduk), which by the time of his reign was the center of a powerful regime with wide influence. Samsu-iluna enlarged the city, but already in his reign the Kassites were pressing in from the northeast hills. It actually fell in 1595 to Hittite raiders under Mursilis I, who removed the statue of Marduk and his consortṢarpānītum to Ḫana. (Possession of a city’s gods [their statues] symbolized control.) The city changed hands frequently under the Kassites (Meli-Šipak [Meli-Šiḫu] and Marduk-aplaiddina I) amid the rivalry of the local tribes. Agumkakrime recovered the captive statues, but that of Marduk was again removed at the sack of the city by Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria (1250) and by the Elamite Kudur-Naḫḫunte II (1176).

C. Middle Babylonian Period The recovery of Marduk’s statue was the crowning achievement of Nebuchadrezzar I (1124–1103), marking an end to foreign domination of the city. He restored it to Esagila amid much public rejoicing and refurbished the cult places. Although Babylon retained its independence despite the pressure of the western tribes, this required help from the Assyrians, one of whom, Adad-apal-iddina, was given the throne (1067–1046). By the following century, however, the tribesmen held the suburbs and even prevented the celebration of the New Year Festival by Nabû-mukīn-apli of the 8th Babylonian Dynasty.

D. Neo-Assyrian Supremacy Shalmaneser III of Assyria was called to intervene in the strife that broke out on the death of Nabû-apla-iddina in 852 b.c. He defeated the rebels, entered Babylon, treated the inhabitants with respect, and offered sacrifices in Marduk’s temple. This action inaugurated a new period of Assyrian intervention in the southern capital, with the result, according to Herodotus, that Sammu-ramat (Semiramis), mother of Adadnirari III, carried out restoration work there.

The citizens’ independent spirit was never long suppressed; and Arameans from the southern tribes seized the city, made Erība-Marduk their leader, and refused to pay allegiance to the northern kingdom. To remedy this Tiglath-pileser III began a series of campaigns to recover control. First he won over the tribe of Puqūdu (Pekod of Jer. 50:21; Ezk. 23:23), who lived to the northeast, leaving Nabonassar (Nabû-nāṣir) as governor of Babylon to pursue a pro-Assyrian policy until his death in 734 [5 highlights]b.c., whereupon Ukīn-zēr of the Amukkani tribe seized the city.

The Assyrians then tried to gain the support of the other tribal chiefs, including Marduk-apla-iddina (Merodach-baladan of the OT) of Bīt-Yakin, who, however, took over the city on the death of Tiglath-pileser’s successor Shalmaneser V in 721. He proclaimed the city’s independence and maintained it for ten years. Either toward the end of this period or more probably in 703 b.c., when he again held Babylon, Merodach-baladan sought Hezekiah’s help against the Assyrians (2 K. 20:12–17). Sargon II recaptured the city in 710 and celebrated the New Year festival by taking the hands of Marduk/Bēland the title “viceroy of Marduk.”

To revenge Merodach-baladan’s later seizure of the capital, Sennacherib marched south to remove the traitor Bēl-ibniand set his own son Aššur-nadin-šumi on the throne. The latter was soon ousted, however, by local revolutionaries, who in turn were defeated by Sennacherib in 689 when he besieged the city for nine months, sacked Babylon, and removed the statue of Marduk and some of the sacred soil to Nineveh. Though this act brought peace, it broke any trust the citizens ever had in the Assyrians, despite Esarhaddon’s efforts to restore the decrepit town. Esarhaddon claimed to have revoked his father’s decree imposing “seventy years of desolation upon the city” by reversing the Babylonian numerals for 70 to make them 11. Many refugees returned, and the city again became a prosperous center under his sonŠamaš-šum-ukīn (669–648). He was isolated, however, by the surrounding tribes, who eventually won him over to their cause. His twin brother Ashurbanipal of Assyria laid siege to the city, which fell after four years of great hardship. Šamaš-šum-ukīn died in the fire that destroyed his palace and the citadel.

E. Chaldean Rulers Reconstruction work began under the Chaldean Nabopolassar (Nabû-apla-uṣur, 626–605 [5 highlights]b.c.), who was elected king following a popular revolt after the death of the Assyrian nominee Kandalanu. His energetic son Nebuchadrezzar (II) with his queen Nitocris restored not only the political prestige of Babylonia, which for a time dominated the whole of the former Assyrian empire, but also the capital city, to which he brought the spoils of war including the treasures of Jerusalem and Judah (2 K 25:13–17). Texts dated to this reign list Jehoiachin king of Judah (Ya’ukin māt Yaḫudu), his five sons, and Judean craftsmen among recipients of corn and oil from the king’s stores. It is to the city of this period, one of the glories of the ancient world, that the extant texts and archeological remains bear witness. Nabonidus (555–539 [5 highlights]b.c.) continued to care for the temples of the city, though he spent ten years in Arabia, leaving control of local affairs in the hands of his son and co-regent Belshazzar, who died when the city fell to the Persians in 539 (Dnl 5:30).

IV. Description

A. Walls Babylon lay in a plain, encircled by double walls. The inner rampart (dūru), called “Imgur-Enlil,” was constructed of mud brick 6.50 m (21 ft) thick. It had large towers at intervals of 18 m (60 ft) jutting out about 3.5 and.75 m (11.5 and 2.5 ft) and rising to 10–18 m (30–60 ft). It has been estimated that there were at least a hundred of these. The line may well have followed that laid down by Sumu-abum of the 1st Dynasty. Over 7 m (23 ft) away lay the lower and double outer wall (šalḫu) called Nimit-Enlil, 3.7 m (12 ft) thick, giving a total defense depth of 17.4 m (57 ft). Twenty m (65 ft) outside these walls lay a moat, widest to the east and linked with the Euphrates to the north and south of the city, thus assuring both river passage and water supply and a flood defense in time of war. The quay wall nearest the city was of burnt brick set in bitumen, and this too had observation towers. The outermost wall of the moat was of beaten earth. The inner area, including Babylon W of the river, which remains unexcavated, measured 8.35 sq km (3.2 sq mi) and the eastern city alone encompassed an area of about 2.25 sq km (.87 sq mi). Nebuchadrezzar and, according to Herodotus, his queen Nitocris made significant additions to the defenses begun by his father. These now incorporated his “Summer Palace” (Bâbīl) 2 km (1.2 mi) to the north. He also added an enlarged northern citadel and enclosed a large area of the plain with yet a third wall, forming an “armed camp” in which the surrounding population could take refuge in time of war. This ran 250 m (820 ft) S of the inner walls and projected about 1.5 km (1 mi) beyond the earlier wall systems.

Herodotus, who describes the city and walls some seventy years after the damage done by Xerxes in 478 b.c. (i.178–187), appears to exaggerate the size. He says that the height of the walls, beyond the moat, was 200 cubits (about 90 m or 300 ft) by 50 royal cubits thick (= 87 ft, 26.5 m). The width was sufficient for a chariot and four horses to pass along them. Moreover, the estimate of the total length of the walls as 480 stades (about 95 km or 60 mi) is difficult to reconcile with the archeological evidence, though the figures are close to those given by Ctesias (300 furlongs = 68 km or 42 mi, with the walls 300 ft [90 m] high and 60, 40, and 20 furlongs in length respectively). Herodotus viewed the city as a rectangle. Unfortunately no excavations to confirm this have yet been possible West of the river.

B. Gates Babylonian inscriptions give the names of the eight major entrances to the city itself, but of these only four have been excavated. The southwest gate of Uraš was probably typical in general plan. The approach was by a dam across the moat through a wide gateway in the outer wall with recessed tower chambers and thence by a deep gateway in the inner wall. The other gate in the south wall was named after Enlil, since it faced southeasterly toward his sanctuary at Nippur. In the east wall were the gate called “Marduk is merciful to his friend” and, S of this, the Zababa gate facing Kish. In the north wall the Ishtar gate was specially decorated and renovated by Nebuchadrezzar at the time of his enlargement of the citadel.

The Sin gate in the north wall and the Šamaš and Adad gates in the west are known only from references in the texts. These gates may well be identified with the five named by Herodotus as Semiramis (Ishtar), Nineveh (Sin to the north?), Chaldean (Enlil? to the south), Kissian (Zababa), and Zeus Belos (Marduk). He further mentions one hundred gates of bronze in the outer walls, which may be “the well-built wide gates with doors of bronze-covered cedar” made by Nebuchadrezzar. Excavations show that the Ishtar gate consisted of a double tower 12 m (40 ft) high, decorated with blue and black glazed bricks with alternate rows in yellow relief of 575 mušruššu (a symbol of Marduk, a combination of a serpent with lion’s and eagle’s legs) and the bulls of (H)adad.

C. Streets The layout of the principal streets was determined by the line of the river and of the main gates and was virtually unchanged from Old Babylonian times. The main thoroughfare, called Ai-ibūr-šābū (“the enemy shall not prevail”), was the sacred procession way running from the Ishtar gate SSE, parallel with the Euphrates. Completed by Nebuchadrezzar, it ran for more than 900 m to the temple Esagila before joining the main east-west road between that temple and the sacred area of Etemenanki and then turning to the Nabonidus wall on the river. There the crossing was made by a stone bridge, 6 m wide, supported by eight piers, each 9 by 21 m (29 by 69 ft), the six amid stream being of burnt bricks that still show traces of wearing by the current. The bridge was 123 m (403 ft) long, shortened to 115 m (377 ft) when Nabonidus built his quay. Herodotus ascribed the bridge to Nitocris (i.186; cf. Diodorus ii.8) and speaks of it as an “open bridge,” perhaps with a removable center section to enable the two parts of the city to be defended independently.

Western towers of the Ishtar gate, with reliefs of animals. Constructed by Nebuchadrezzar II (605–562 b.c.), the gate led to the sacred processional street. (Oriental Institute, University of Chicago) See Plate 6.

The Procession Way was 11–20 m (36–66 ft) broad and paved with colored stone from Lebanon, red breccia, and limestone. Some paving stones were inscribed “I Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, paved this road with mountainstone for the procession of Marduk, my lord. May Marduk my Lord grant me eternal life.” The parapet of the raised road was decorated with 120 lions in relief.

The other main roads intersected the city at right angles and bore names associated with the gates from which they led: “Adad has guarded the life of the people”; “Enlil establisher of kingship”; “Marduk is shepherd of his land”; “Ishtar is the guardian of the folk”; “Šamaš has made firm the foundation of my people”; “Sin is stablisher of the crown of his kingdom”; “Uraš is judge of his people”; and “Zababa destroys his foes.” There were also other procession streets named after deities — Marduk (“Marduk hears him who seeks him”) and Sibitti — and also after earlier kings (Damiq-ilišu).

D. Citadel The northern wall was extended in the center by Nebuchadrezzar to form an additional defense for the palaces to the south and to provide more accommodation. This complex appears to have been used by his successors as a storehouse (some think as a “museum”), for here were found objects from earlier reigns including inscriptions of the Assyrian kings Adadnirari III and Ashurbanipal from Nineveh, a Hittite basalt sculpture of a lion trampling a man (“the lion of Babylon”), and a stele showing the Hittite storm-god Tešub from seventh-century (b.c.) Sam’al.

E. Palaces In the southern citadel, bounded by the Imgur-Enlil wall (N), the river (W), the Procession Way (E), and theLibilḫegalla canal (which was cleared by Nebuchadrezzar and linked the Euphrates and the Banitu canal E of the city with the canal network in the New City, thus providing the city with a system of internal waterways), was a massive complex of buildings covering more than 360 by 180 m (400 by 200 yds). Here lay the vast palace built by Nabopolassar and extended by his successors. The entrance from the Procession Way led to a courtyard (66.5 by 42.5 m, 218 by 140 ft), flanked by quarters for the royal bodyguard, which in Nebuchadrezzar’s time largely consisted of foreign mercenaries. A double gateway led into the second court, off which lay reception rooms and living quarters. A wider doorway gave access to a third court (66 by 55 m, 218 by 180 ft); to its south lay the Throne Room, the external wall of which was decorated in blue glazed bricks bearing white and yellow palmettes, pillars with a dado of rosettes and lions. This large hall (52 by 17 m, 170 by 57 ft, partially restored in 1968) could have been that used for state occasions, such as Belshazzar’s feast for a thousand persons (Dnl. 5). Two further wings of the palace overlooking the river to the west may have been the quarters of the king, his queen, and their personal attendants. It is more likely that this was the building used by Belshazzar for his feast rather than the “Palace of the Crown Prince” (ekal mār šarri) said to have been used later by Xerxes.

In the northwest angle of this complex, adjacent to the Ishtar gate, lay another large building (42 by 30 m, 140 by 98 ft) consisting of fourteen narrow rooms leading off a long central walk. Since it was at some time walled off from the new palace, it has been thought to have been the substructure of that wonder of the ancient world, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. According to Ctesias in Diodorus (ii.10) and Strabo (xvi.1.5), this was a series of garden-laid terraces supported by arches designed by Nebuchadrezzar (so Berossus in Josephus Ant. x.11.1 [226]) for his queen, to remind his new bride, Amyitis daughter of Astyages the Mede, of her mountain-fringed homeland. This description might, however, equally apply to the ziggurat (see G below).

The presence of administrative texts within these subterranean rooms more likely indicates that these were palace stores. Included among the tablets found here and dated to the tenth to thirty-fifth years of Nebuchadrezzar (i.e., 595–570 [5 highlights]b.c.) were lists of recipients of rations of corn and oil distributed to foreigners, men from Judah, Ashkelon, Gebal, Egypt, Cilicia, Greece (Yamanu), and Persia. Among the men of Judah were Jehoiachin and his sons and craftsmen, some with such OT names as Gaddiel, Shelemiah, and Samakiah (E. F. Weidner, Mélanges offerts à M. Dussaud, II [1939], 924ff). Nebuchadrezzar also built himself a “Summer Palace” outside the main citadel but within the defense walls. This was set 9 m (30 ft) high (it was 100 m [328 ft] long) to catch the cooler northeast winds.

F. City Quarters Tablets name the various parts of the city, which included the citadel itself (ālu libbi āli, “city within a city”) with at least nine temples. It was described as near ká-dingir-ra, which name also applied to the whole city. The citadel included the royal palace as far as Esagila. Here were to be found the temples of Ishtar and Ninmaḫ. Other quarters were named Kaṣiri, Kullab, and Kumari. The “New City” (ālu eššu) lay on the west bank of the Euphrates and was part of the Chaldean extension. Large areas within the city walls were given up to parks and squares.

G. Temple Tower (Ziggurat) The ziggurat of Babylon, É-temen-an-ki (“building [of] the foundation of heaven and earth”), lay in the center of the city, S of the citadel, now marked by the ruin-area Ṣaḥn (“the Pan”), a deep depression near the mausoleum of ‘Amrān Ibn ‘Alī founded a.d. 680. It lay in a square doublecasemate walled enclosure, forming a rectangular courtyard measuring about 420 by 375 m (460 by 410 yds). Entry was by two doors in the north and ten elaborate gateways. The enclosure was frequently repaired, and bricks marking this activity in the reign of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal of Assyria and of Nebuchadrezzar have survived. The area was subdivided into a long narrow western court, a northern court in which towered the ziggurat with its adjacent monumental buildings, wall shelters for the pilgrims, housing for the priests, and storerooms. The main approach from the Procession Way led between two long storerooms. One late Babylonian text, the Esagila tablet AO 6555, gives the dimensions of the courts and the names of the gates: “grand”; “the rising sun”; “the great gate”; “gate of the guardian colossi”; “canal-gate”; and “gate of the tower-view.”

Opposite the main gate lay the stepped tower on a platform with shrines grouped around. The stages are given as 91 m sq by 34 m high (300 ft sq by 110 ft high) for the lowest, the next 80 m sq by 18 m high (260 ft sq by 60 ft high), the next three diminishing stages each 6 m (20 ft) high and 61, 52, and 43 m (200, 170, and 140 ft) square. Originally each stage, as at Ur, may have been of different color. The sanctuary of Marduk (Bēl) on top, 15 m (50 ft) high, gave a total height of 85 m (280 ft). However, nothing remains of the tower except the lower stairs, the whole having been plundered for its bricks by local villagers. There is no reason to doubt the identification of this site with the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–11), the building of which had been terminated. The inscriptions refer only to rebuilding and repair work by the later kings of Babylon. The common identification of the Tower of Babel with the remains of the ziggurat at Borsippa, 7 mi (11 km) SSW, is open to question on a number of grounds, not the least that that edifice was in a separate city. The extant vitrified ruins there are of a temple tower also rebuilt by Nebuchadrezzar II.

Ruins of Nebuchadrezzar’s “Summer Palace,” just inside the outer fortification line on the bank of the Euphrates (W. S. LaSor)

Herodotus (i.181–183) described Etemenanki, which he called the “sanctuary” of Zeus Belos. It was, he wrote, 2 stadia (400 m or 1300 ft) sq and was entered through a bronze gate. The temple tower stood in the center of the sanctuary, its sides 1 stadium (200 m, 650 ft) long, with eight towers, one on top of the other. It also had slopes or steps rising on each level. (See Babel, Tower Of.) In the large topmost temple was a couch covered in beautiful rugs with a golden table. There was no image of the deity, and the Chaldean priests informed Herodotus that one unmarried native woman spent the night there to be visited by the deity. Though Herodotus did not believe the story, it conforms to the known Babylonian view of the sacred marriage.

H. Esagila The principal temple of Babylon, Esagila (“house of the uplifted head”), was dedicated to the patron deity of the city Marduk. It lay S of Etemenanki, which must have overshadowed it. The excavations by Koldewey in the ‘Amrān Ibn ‘Alī mound disclosed sufficient evidence to recover the ground plan of two building complexes. The main shrine to the west (10 by 79 m, 33 by 260 ft) was entered by four doors, one on each side. At a lower level than the principal shrine, that of Marduk, were chapels and niches for lesser deities around the central courtyard. Nabopolassar claimed to have redecorated the Marduk shrine with gypsum and silver alloy, which Nebuchadrezzar replaced with fine gold. The walls were studded with precious stones set in gold plate, and stone and lapis lazuli pillars supported cedar roof beams. The texts describe the god’s gilded bedchamber adjacent to the throne room.

Herodotus (i.183) described two statues of the god, one seated. The larger was said to be 12 ells (6 m, 20 ft) high, but Herodotus did not see it, being told that it had been carried off by Xerxes. This was the usual practice of those kings who wished to curb the independent citizens of Babylon. The opposite action, that of “taking the hand of Bēl (Marduk)” to lead the statue out of the akitu (New Year) house and into Esagila, ensured their authority and usually acceptance by the people. Herodotus was told that 800 talents (16.8 metric tons) of gold were used for these statues and for the table, throne, and footstool. A thousand talents of incense were burned annually at the festivals while innumerable sacrificial animals were brought in to the two golden altars, one used for large, the other for small victims.

Esagila was first mentioned by Šulgi of Ur, who restored it ca 2100 b.c. Sabium, Hammurabi, Samsuiluna, Ammi-ditana,Ammi-ṣaduqa and Samsu-ditana all refer to their devotion to the temple during the 1st Dynasty of Babylon (1894–1595), a care that was to be continued by every king and conqueror of Babylon except Sennacherib. Some refer to their dedications to Marduk and Ṣarpānītum or to Nabû and Tašmetum in their twin shrine at Ezida (“house of knowledge”). One of the best-known of these votive gifts was the diorite stele engraved with the laws of Hammurabi and set up in Esagila as a record of the manner in which that king had exercised justice. The standard brick inscription of Nebuchadrezzar describes him as “provider for Esagila and Ezida.” At a lower level in Esagila were located the shrines of Ea to the north, Anu to the south, and elsewhere Nusku and Sin. To the east of Esagila lay a further complex of buildings (89 by 116 m, 292 by 380 ft) the precise purpose of which is not known.

I. Other Temples In addition to Ezida, Babylonian texts refer to at least fifty other temples by name, Nebuchadrezzar himself claiming to have built fifteen of them within the city. Excavations have uncovered the temple of Ishtar of Agade (Emašdari) in the area of private houses (Merkes), E of the Procession Way. This faced toward the southwest and was rectangular in form (37 by 31 m, 111 by 102 ft) with two entrances, S and E, leading into an inner court. The plan was similar to others of the period (e.g., Ezida of Borsippa) with six antechambers alongside the antechapel and shrine, which led directly off the court. This temple was kept in order by Nebuchadrezzar and Nabonidus and lasted into the Persian era.

Koldewey also cleared two temples E of ‘Amrān Ibn ‘Alī in the Išin-Aswad mound. One cannot be identified as yet due to the absence of inscriptions, hence its designation “Z” temple. This was in continual use over at least seventeen hundred years. To the east lay the shrine of Ninurta (Epatitilla, “temple of the staff of life”) built by Nabopolassar, according to its foundation cylinder. This was restored by Nebuchadrezzar. Here the plan (190 by 133 m, 623 by 436 ft) differs, the main entry being to the east, with subsidiary doors to the north and south. Off the courtyard to the west lay three interconnected equal shrines, each with a dais perhaps dedicated to Ninurta and his wife Gula and son Nusku.

Near the Ishtar gate stood the well-preserved temple of Ninmaḫ, goddess of the underworld, constructed by Ashurbanipal ca 646 b.c. Outside this massive building, called Emaḫ, stood an altar. Passing this to the main door on the north side, worshipers would then traverse the courtyard, passing a well, to enter the shrine in the antechapel. Here they would kneel before the statue of the goddess splendidly clothed and standing on its dais. The architect, Labāši, had designed the surrounding storerooms with a view to security, since many valuable votive offerings must have been hoarded there together with the many fertility figurines found in them. The outer wall was defended by towers, since the shrine may have lain outside the main city defenses. This building has now been fully restored by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities. The cuneiform texts imply that there were many shrines in the city, “180 open-air shrines for Ishtar” and “300 daises for the Igigi gods and 1200 daises of the Anunnaki gods.” There were also more than two hundred pedestals for other deities mentioned. The open-air shrines were probably similar to those for the intercessory Lama goddess found at crossroads at Ur.

J. Private Houses A series of mounds to the north of Išin Aswad at Babylon are called locally Merkes, “trade center.” Since the levels containing houses were easier to excavate, being on raised ground, it was possible for Koldewey to trace occupation here almost continuously from the Old Babylonian period to the Parthian period. Here too the streets ran almost straight and crossed at right angles. The houses consisted of a series of rooms around a central courtyard. They were made of mud brick roofed with mats set over wooden beams, and many showed signs of the fire that had raged in the destruction of the city at the hands of the Hittites, Sennacherib, or Xerxes. Several of the buildings had foundation walls 1.8 m (6 ft) thick; and, like “the Great House” in Merkes, this may indicate that they supported more than one story. Nevertheless, Herodotus’ observation that “the city was filled with houses of three or four stories” cannot now be checked. Some houses may have been built on higher ground than others. Moreover, his expression órophos could be rendered “roofs” rather than “story.”

K. Documents Apart from the architectural remains, the decorations of the Ishtar gate, and small objects, the most significant finds from ancient Babylon are more than thirty thousand inscribed tablets. Since apart from the Merkes the Old Babylonian levels have not been explored, mainly because of the high water table of the region, most of these are dated to the Chaldean dynasty or later. They provide an intimate knowledge of personal dealings by merchants until the Seleucid era. Many were obtained by locals in their illicit diggings and cannot now be associated with their original context. These tablets are mainly contracts and administrative documents. There are, however, a number of literary and religious texts originating in the temples in the post-Achaemenid period up to a.d. 100. A few of these traditional “school-texts” are in Greek on clay tablets. These continued to be copied long after Aramaic had become the official language written on more perishable materials, and they include astronomical observations, diaries, almanacs, and omens.

V. Later History

A. Fall of Babylon, 539b.c. In 544 Nabonidus returned from Teimā to Babylon, with which he had been in contact throughout his ten-year exile. He does not, however, appear to have taken over control of the city itself again from Belshazzar when, according to the Babylonian Chronicle for his seventeenth year, the gods of the chief cities of Babylonia, except Borsippa, Kutha, and Sippar, were brought into the capital for safekeeping. During Cyrus’ attack on Opis the citizens of Babylon apparently revolted but were suppressed by Nabonidus with some bloodshed. He himself fled when Sippar fell on the 15th of Tešrītu, and the next day Ugbaru, the governor of Gutium, and the Persian army entered the city without a battle. This appears to have been effected by the strategem of diverting the river Euphrates, thus drying up the moat defenses and enabling the enemy to enter the city by marching up the dried-up river bed. This may also imply some collaboration with sympathizers inside the walls. That night Belshazzar was killed (Dnl. 5:30). For the remainder of the month Persian troops occupied Esagila, though without bearing arms or interrupting the religious ceremonies.

On the 3rd of Araḫ-samnu (Oct 29, 539 b.c.), sixteen days after the capitulation, Cyrus himself entered the city amid much public acclaim, ending the Chaldean dynasty as predicted by the Hebrew prophets (Isa. 13:21; Jer. 50f). Cyrus treated the city with great respect, returning to their own shrines the statues of the deities brought in from other cities. The Jews were sent home with compensatory assistance. He appointed new governors, so ensuring peace and stable conditions essential to the proper maintenance of the religious centers.

B. Achaemenid City In Nisānu 538, Cambyses II son of Cyrus II “took the hands of Bēl,” but left the city under the control of a governor, who kept the peace until Cambyses’ death in 522 b.c. There followed the first of the recurrent revolts. Nidintu-Bēl seized power, taking the emotive throne-name Nebuchadrezzar III (Oct.–Dec. 522). Darius, the legitimate king (520–485), put down a further rebellion in the following year but spared the city, building there an arsenal, a Persian-style columned hall (appa danna), as an addition to the palace he used during his stay in the city.

Xerxes, possibly the Ahasuerus of Ezr. 4:6, maintained Babylon’s importance as an administrative center and provincial capital, but the town declined after an uprising that he successfully suppressed. Another rebellion in his fourth year (482) led him to destroy the ziggurat and to remove the statue of Marduk. The walls remained standing in good enough repair for Herodotus, who probably visited the city ca 460 b.c., to describe them in detail (i.178–188), vindicated to a large measure by subsequent researches. There is no evidence that the decree of Xerxes imposing the worship of Ahuramazda was ever taken seriously.

Economic texts from the Egibi family and the Murašu archives from Nippur (460–400 [5 highlights]b.c.) show continued activity despite increasing inflation which more than doubled the rent on a small house, from 15 shekels per annum under Cyrus II to almost 40 shekels in the reign of Artaxerxes I (Longimanus, 465–424), when Ezra and Nehemiah left Babylon to return to Jerusalem (Ezr. 7:1; Neh. 2:1). Artaxerxes II (404–359), according to Berossus, was the first Persian ruler to introduce the statue of Aphrodite or Anahita into the city. Artaxerxes III (Ochus, 358–338) could be the builder or restorer of the appa danna found by Koldewey.

C. Hellenistic Period After his victory at Gaugamela near Arbela (Erbil), Oct. 1, 331 b.c., Alexander marched to Babylon, where the Macedonian was triumphantly acclaimed, the Persian garrison offering no opposition. He offered sacrifices to Marduk, ordered the rebuilding of temples that Xerxes allegedly had destroyed, and then a month later moved on to Susa. He later returned to further his elaborate plans for the sacred city, on which he paid out 600,000 days’ wages for clearing the rubble from the precincts of Esagila (Strabo xvi.1). This debris was dumped on that part of the ruins now called Ḥomera. The Jews who had fought in his army refused to take any part in the restoration of the temple of Bēl(Josephus CAp i.192). Alexander also planned a new port, but this too was thwarted by his death, June 13, 323. The Greek theater inside the east wall (Ḥomera), cleared by Koldewey and Lenzen, may have been built at this time, though it was unquestionably restored in the time of Antiochus IV.

D. Seleucid-Parthians A king list from Babylon written soon after 175 b.c. names the successors of Alexander who ruled the city — Philip Arrhidaeus, Antigonus, Alexander IV, and Seleucus I (323–250). Before Seleucus died Babylon’s economic but not its religious importance had declined sharply, a process hastened by the foundation of a new capital at Seleucia (Tell `Umar) on the Tigris by his successor Antiochus I, in 274 b.c.

E. Later City Babylon’s attraction as a “holy city” continued. The satrap Hyspaosines of Characene suppressed a revolt led by a certain Hymerus in 127 b.c. when the priests of Esagila were active. Hymerus issued coins as “king of Babylon” in 124/23, but by the following year Mithradates II had regained control. An independent ruler Gotarzes I was recognized as ruler in 91–80, and the city lay in Parthian hands (Mithradates III, 58–55) until taken over by a rebel Orodes. It remained a center of Hellenism, despite the opposition of a significant traditional Babylonian priestly party and of a minority of Jews, from among whom may have come Hillel. Babylon supported the Jews in Palestine who opposed Herod (Josephus Ant. xv.2.1–3). The close association between these Jews in Babylon, who enjoyed self-government there in the 1st cent, and their fellows in Jerusalem is suggested in Acts 2:9–11. Dated cuneiform texts up to a.d. 110 show that the site was still occupied. While Babylon may have been the site of an early Christian church (1 Pet. 5:13), there is no evidence (see Babylon in the NT). When Trajan entered the city in 115 he sacrificed to Alexander’s manes but made no reference to the continued existence of other religious practices or buildings. According to Septimius Severus the site was deserted by a.d. 200.

VI. Exploration and Excavation

Since the ancient city of Babylon long lay deserted and unidentified, many early travelers, including Schiltberger (ca 1400), di Conti (1428–1453), Rauwolf (1574), and John Eldred (1583), thought it lay elsewhere, probably at the upstanding remains of ‘Aqar Qūf, W of Baghdad, which resembled the Tower of Babel. Benjamin of Tudela (12th cent), however, considered that the ruins of Birs Nimrûd covered ancient Babylon.

Pietro della Valle, visiting Bâbil in 1616, correctly equated it with Babylon, as did Emmanuel Ballyet in 1755 and Carsten Niebuhr some ten years later. Surface exploration was undertaken by C. J. Rich (1811/12, [6 highlights]1821) and J. S. Buckingham and Mellino (1827). Ker Porter mapped the ruins (1818), as did Coste and Flandin (1841), while soundings were made by R. Mignan (1828) and more seriously by A. H. Layard (1850).

The first systematic excavations were directed by a French consul, Fresnel, with Oppert and Thomas in 1852. Their finds were regrettably lost when a boat containing them foundered at Qurna. Work was continued by E. Sachau in 1897/98, but it was left to the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft under Robert Koldewey to plan and carry out scientific excavations throughout the years 1899–1917. Work began with the Procession Way, the temple of Ninmaḫ, and the palaces (1900), the Ninurta temple (1901), the Ishtar gate (1902), the Persian buildings (1906/07), Merkes (1908), and the rest of theQaṣr (1911/12).

From 1955 to 1968 the Iraqi Department of Antiquities carried out further clearances, especially of the Ishtar gateway, which was partially restored together with the Procession Way and the palaces. The Ninmaḫ temple was reconstructed, and a museum and rest house built on the site, which is also partially covered by the village of Jumjummah. The German Archaeological Institute has continued its interest in the site by excavating the quay wall and the Greek theater.

See also Archeology of Mesopotamia.

Bibliography.—R. Koldewey, Excavations at Babylon (1914); E. Unger, Babylon, die heilige Stadt (1931); “Babylon” inReallexikon der Assyriologie, II (1932); O. E. Ravn, Herodutus’ Description of Babylon (1932); W. Andrae, Babylon, die versunkene Weltstadt und ihr Ausgräber Robert Koldewey (1952); F. Wetzel, Das Babylon der Spätzeit (1957); A. Parrot,Babylon and the OT (1958); H. J. Klengel, in Forschungen und Berichte, 5 (1962); J. Neusner, History of the Jews in Babylonia: The Parthian Period (1965); H. W. F. Saggs, in AOTS, pp. 39–56.

D. J. Wiseman

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Moabites

The Moabites were descendants of Lot, Moab being the son of Lot and his older daughter.

[Ammon was the son of Lot with his younger daughter, thus the Ammonites. The Edomites were descended from Esau, the son of Isaac. The Amalekites were descended from Eliphaz, a son of Esau.]

Geography of Moab

The territory of Moab is usually described in three parts:

  • The field of Moab, enclosed by natural fortifications. This portion was bounded on the north by the gorge of the Arnon river; on the west by the Dead Sea cliffs; on the south and east by a circle of hills which have no natural opening except for the flow of the Arnon.
  • The land of Moab was the more open country from the Arnon north to the hills of Gilead.
  • The plains of Moab was the district in the low, tropical depths of the valley of the Jordan River.

When the Israelites came up from Egypt, they approached Moab from the southeast, outside the bordering circle of hills. They were forbidden to disturb the Moabites in their enjoyment of the land which they had taken from the Emim. Deut. 2:9-11

Therefore, they applied for permission to pass through the territory of Moab. This was refused, so they went around its borders.

History of Moab

Although the Moabites refused passage to the Israelites, Moab did not fight against Israel while they were neighbors for more than 300 years. In fact, Deut. 2:29 makes no complaint about hostility either of Edom or Moab, only mentioning that Moab lacked hospitality and hired Balaam to curse Israel.

There is no hint that either nation hindered Israel in its passage along the borders, although Edom did stand ready to fight should its territory be encroached upon. Deut. 2:29 indicates that trade was carried on.

The Moabites were much too friendly, in fact, sending their daughters to cultivate friendly relations with Israelite men and to entice them into idolatry. Num. 25:2 (note feminine of verb)

The Moabites peaceful character and their many possessions may account for the terror of Moabite King Balak at the approach of the Israelites. He took rather special means to guard against them. Instead of sending his army out, he first consulted with the leaders of Midian. Moab and Midian were kin by virtue of their common descent from Terah, Moab through Lot from Haran, and Midian from Abraham by Keturah. Gen. 11:27; 19:37; 25:2

The result of this conference was that the two nations united in sending for the prophet Balaam. Num. 25

The Exclusion of Moab

The exclusion of Moabites and Ammonites from the congregation of the Lord to the tenth generation was not on account of hostility but because of their lack of hospitality and the hiring of Balaam. Deut. 23:4 There is no direct prohibition of marriage with Moabites. These rules were made against Canaanites.

The Time of the Judges

After the conquest of Canaan, Moab oppressed Israel for 18 years. It is significant, however, that “The Lord strengthened Eglon, the King of Moab, against Israel … and he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek and went out and smote Israel” (Judges 3:12,13). The Moabite conquest ended with the assassination of Eglon by the judge Ehud.

The Time of the Kingdom

We read that Saul fought against Moab, 1 Sam. 14:47.

Early relations seemed fairly friendly, however, as we see in Ruth.

David, when being pressed by Saul, entrusted the safe keeping of his father and mother to the king of Moab. But, twenty years later, for some reason, he treated the Moabites hard and took spoil from them for the treasure of the temple, 2 Sam. 8:2. The Moabites became tributary to David. Later they again sent their daughters, this time to Saul to lead him astray.

The Moabites were still paying tribute in the days of Ahab, 2 Kings 3:4,5. After Ahab, they revolted. They collected an army (2 Chron. 20) of Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites, and attacked Judah, then ruled by Jehoshaphat. Judah met them with prayer and praise of God. God caused dissension to break out in the camp of the enemy. The Moabites and Ammonites first slaughtered the Edomites, then each other, and Israel gathered the spoil.

Moabites continued to appear in Bible accounts and in historical accounts. [ See Unger’s Bible Handbook ] Josephus described Moab as still a great nation in Roman times. The name “Moab” remained in history until about 380 AD in the time of Eusebius.

The language of Moab was a dialect of Hebrew, differing from Biblical Hebrew only in some small details.

THE RELIGION OF MOAB

Chemosh (ke-mosh) was the national deity of Moab. This god was honored with cruel and perverse practices including child sacrifices like those of Molech. The account on the Moabite Stone (see below) states that “the anger of Chemosh” is the reason for Israel’s subjugation of Moab.

Solomon made a fatal mistake of rearing an altar to Chemosh in Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:7, and this abomination was not destroyed until almost 300 years later during the purge carried out by Josiah (2 Kings 23:13).

THE MOABITE STONE

The Moabite Stone is an important memorial of alphabetic writing. Erected by Mesha, king of Moab, to record his successful revolt against Israel and to give honor to the god Chemosh for his victory. The stone was set up about 850 BC

The stone was discovered in 1868 by a German missionary, Klein. He was on a visit to Moab and was told by an Arab sheik that there was an inscribed stone lying at the town of Dhiban, the ancient city of Dibon. On examining the stone he found it to be a stele of black basalt, round at the top and nearly four feet in length and two in width. There were thirty-four lines of inscription using the Phoenician alphabet.

Klein was not fully aware of the importance of his find. He returned to Jerusalem and informed the Prussian consulate of the discovery. The Prussians made plans to obtain the stone.

The next year, a member of the French consulate, M. Clearmont-Ganneau, heard that the stone was still lying in the open, exposed to the weather. He determined to get possession of it for France. He sent Arab natives to get “squeezes” made and to arrange the purchase of the stone.

These Arabs quarreled in the presence of some of the inhabitants of Dhiban, but an impression was made and delivered to the French consulate.

But the bidding for the stone, the arguments, and the rivalry between the Prussians and the French aroused in both Moabite and Turkish officials a good idea of the stone’s value. So the governor of the province naturally demanded the prize for himself. The Arabs of Dhiban, rather than lose the stone for nothing to the governor of their province, lighted a fire under it, and when it was very hot, poured cold water on it and shivered it into pieces.

The pieces of the Moabite stone were distributed to various families in the area to put into their corn granaries as charms to protect from corn blight. A considerable number of these fragments have since been recovered, but without the squeeze which was taken when the stone was intact, it would have been impossible to fit many of them together.

The writing on the stone was deciphered in 1886 by two German professors who worked for weeks in the Louvre, where the squeeze may still be seen. The inscription on the stone supplements and corroborates the history of King Mesha of Moab as recorded in 2 Kings 3:4‑27. The inscription is proof that the Moabites were akin to Israelites in language as well as in race. The likeness between the languages of Moab and Israel extends beyond grammar and syntax. It is a likeness which exists also in thought.

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Balaam

Foreword: The story of Balaam is in the Bible to teach us that there are consequences for going against God.  Balaam was told not to participate in assisting the king of Moab and he proceeded anyway for profit.  Have you ever felt the urge to follow fame or fortune when you knew that it did not glorify the Lord?  You may not appreciate the results when following your own path.  What follows is the Balaam article in Grace Notes.

Balaam was a Gentile living in the city of Pethor in Mesopotamia. He was a poet and a prophet of sorts, but he belongs to the Midianites. See Numbers 22 and following for his story.

Balaam possessed some knowledge of Jehovah, the true God; and he acknowledged that his superior powers and knowledge as a prophet came from God. Balaam had become somewhat famous and he became conceited and covetous.

The Israelites Encounter with the Midianites

The Israelites had camped in the plain of Moab on their second approach to the land of Canaan. Balak, the king of Moab, entered into a league with the Midianites against the Israelites. He sent messengers to Balaam with money to pay him to place a curse on the Israelites.

TOPIC: Moabites

Balaam did not trust the messengers and asked them to spend the night so that he could consult with God. God expressly prohibited Balaam from going back with the men to Moab, so they returned to Balak.

Balak sent some very high officials on another mission to Balaam; and Balaam was promised great reward and much honor. Balaam replied that he could not be tempted by reward but that he would speak what the Lord would reveal. The ambassadors spent the night and Balaam again talked to the Lord. Because of Balaam’s persistence, he secured permission from God to accompany Balak’s messengers, with the understanding that God would dictate what Balaam would speak.

In the morning Balaam proceeded with the princes of Moab, but God’s anger was kindled against him. An angel barred his way on the road to Moab. Balaam did not see the angel, but the donkey Balaam was riding saw him and shied away into a field. Then, when Balaam tried to keep the donkey on the trail, the donkey squeezed Balaam’s foot against a wall. Finally, the donkey fell down. Balaam became enraged and beat the donkey with a stick. The donkey then questioned Balaam about the beating. Then Balaam was able to see the angel. The angel accused Balaam of perverseness, but told him to go on to Moab but only to speak the things God would tell him.

When Balaam met Balak, he told him that he would only speak what the Lord told him to. According to Balaam’s direction, he and Balak erected seven altars upon each of which they offered a ram and a bullock.

Three times Balaam tried to speak a curse against Israel, but his very speaking was overruled by God. Instead of cursings coming out of his mouth there were blessings and magnificent prophecies, reaching forward in time until they told of, “a Star rising out of Jacob.”

Balak was very disappointed, to say the least. So to assuage Balak’s feelings, Balaam advised him that since he could not curse Israel, the Moabites could do just as much damage to Israel by seducing the Israelites to commit fornication with them. A great deal of damage was done over several generations by this practice.

A battle was fought between the Israelites and Midianites, and Balaam sided with the Midianites and was slain. SeeNum. 31:8.

Balaam comes down in history as the prototype of the typical hireling prophet eager only to commercialize his gift.2 Pet. 2:15; Titus 1

The doctrine of Balaam mentioned in Rev. 2:14 was the teaching of the mercenary prophet to abandon godly separation and character in favor of worldly corruption and conformity. Balaam taught Balak to corrupt the people that he could not conquer. He was ignorant of God’s principles, and too self centered to use his gift properly.

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Baal

Foreword: The topical article discusses the god Baal.  This demonic religion derailed the Israelites many times in their history,  What follows is the Grace Notes article with links to Biblegateway to read the Scripture references. 

From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Baal bāʹəl [Heb ba‘al < Bab Belu. or Bel—‘lord’; Gk Baal]. The supreme fertility-god of the Canaanites.

I. Name

II. Character

III. Worship

IV. Various Forms of Baal

I. Name

In the Râs Shamrah texts, the first of which were discovered in 1929, the designation “Baal” is found about 240 times either alone or in a compound. The combination aliyn b‘l, referring to the same god, is specified about seventy times and mainly in those passages where sacrifices are offered to Baal. The name is most widely employed alone as a title; as such it occurs about 150 times. About twenty times Baal is called Hadad or is used in a compound form of Hadad, the Semitic storm-god of the ancient Near East who was perhaps universally known in the ancient world. Though Hadad (Addu of the Amarna Letters) and Baal were two separate gods, the Râs Shamrah tablets indicate no differentiation. The two names are employed as though they belonged to the same god, giving a strong indication that the characteristics of Baal were similar to those of Hadad. Hadad’s mission, as well as his symbol (the bull, a symbol of fertility), was assumed by the Canaanite Baal. Baal is further mentioned as bn dgn, i.e., “son of Dagan,” the fertility-god who was also worshiped by the Philistines (Jgs. 16:23; 1 S. 5:2). His close relationship to Hadad and Dagan leaves no doubt that Baal was considered the fertility-god of the Ugaritic religion.

Baal thunderbolt Louvre AO15775.jpg

“Baal of the lightning,” stele from Râs Shamrah. The small human figure may be a deity or a person in the god’s care. (Louvre)

The Râs Shamrah tablets give no indication that Baal was in any sense a local god. As the word in Hebrew also means “possessor,” however, it is quite possible that when used in a religious sense the name signified the god of a particular area of land or soil. Thus the forms under which Baal was worshiped were necessarily as numerous as the communities that worshiped him. Each locality had its own Baal or divine lord who frequently took his name from the city or place to which he belonged. Hence there were Baal-meon (“Baal of Meon,” Nu. 32:38), Baal-hermon (“Baal of Hermon,” Jgs. 3:3), Baal-hazor (“Baal of Hazor,” 2 S. 13:23), Baal-peor (“Baal of Peor,” Nu. 25:3). At other times the title was affixed to the names of an individual god; thus there were Bel-Marduk (“the lord Marduk”) at Babylon, Baal-Melqart at Tyre, and Baal-gad (Josh. 11:17) in the north of Palestine. Occasionally the second element was a noun, as in Baal-berith (“lord of the covenant,” (Jgs. 9:4), Baal-zebub (“lord of flies,” 2 K. 1:2), and Baal-hamon (“lord of abundance or wealth,” Cant. 8:11). All these various forms of the fertility-god were collectively known as the Baalim (be‘ālîm, Heb pl of Baal).

II. Character

The Râs Shamrah tablets, as well as the statuettes and stelae found there, have produced an abundance of information relating to the character of Baal. His character as the storm-god is expressed on a sculptured stele. In his left hand he is seen grasping a thunderbolt, the extension of which converts into a spearhead, and in his right hand he is swinging a club overhead. He dons a helmet adorned with the horns of a bull, which emphasizes his role as the supreme fertility-god of the Ugaritic religion.

The Râs Shamrah texts praise Baal as the god who has power over rain, wind, clouds, and therefore over fertility. His control over nature, however, fluctuates in accord with his victories or defeats in his encounters with Mot, god of death, sterility, and aridity. In emphasizing the cycle of the seasons the Râs Shamrah texts tell of Baal’s repeated defeats by Mot, who brings forth scorched and barren fields. During these periods of aridity Baal’s power is eclipsed, but only temporarily. Baal will be victorious again; he will defeat Mot and return to grant rich, fertile fields to his people.

After one such struggle in which Baal is defeated, he is commanded by Mot to descend to the underworld. Before he does, however, he copulates with his sister-consort, the goddess Anat, to produce an heir in order to guarantee the continued fertility of the land. Here Baal appears as a bull and Anat as a heifer. The goddess Anat laments over the death of Baal and searches for him. She finds him and returns him to the heights of Sapan, buries him there, and sacrifices seventy wild oxen, seventy bulls, seventy sheep, seventy deer, seventy wild goats, and seventy asses. Anat pleads with Mot to raise Baal from death, but he refuses. During this time, of course, the rains cease falling, the sun scorches the earth, the vegetation is burned, the fields are unproductive, and the drought continues.

Finally the time arrives for Anat to bring vengeance against the evil Mot. She attacks him, cleaves him with a sword, burns him with fire, grinds him with millstones, and sows him in the fields, so that the birds will eat his remains. The aftermath of Anat’s victory over Mot is the reappearance of Baal. But, even as the Babylonian Marduk had to defeat Tiâmat before regaining his supremacy over the gods, so Baal must recapture his rightful throne on Sapan, the mountain of the gods. Consequently, Baal drives Aṯtar, the son of Asherah, from the throne and in a short but fierce battle again defeats Mot. Now the fields can once again be fertile and productive.

III. Worship

The Canaanite religion had a strong influence on the Hebrews. During the time of Balaam and Balak, Baal was worshiped in Moab (Nu. 22:41). [5 highlights] Saul, Jonathan, and David had sons who were [5 highlights]named Esh-baal (1 Ch. 8:33), Merib-baal (8:34), and Beeliada (14:7). During Ahab’s reign, however, the name became associated with the worship and rites of the Tyrian deity introduced into Samaria by Jezebel, and its idolatrous associations accordingly caused it to fall into disrepute. Hosea (2:16) declares that henceforth the God of Israel should no longer be called Baali, “my Baal,” and that the “names of the Baals … shall be mentioned by name no more” (2:17).

Temples of Baal at Samaria and Jerusalem are mentioned in 1 K. 16:21 and 2 K. 11:18. They had been erected at the time when the Ahab dynasty endeavored to fuse the Yahweh worshipers and the Baal worshipers into a single people under the same national Tyrian god. Altars on which incense was burned to Baal were erected in the streets of Jerusalem (Jer. 11:13), apparently on the flat roofs of the houses (32:29). The temple of Baal contained an image of the god in the shape of a pillar (2 K. 10:26f). In the reign of Ahab, Baal was served by 450 priests (1 K. 18:19), as well as by prophets (2 K. 10:19). Baal worshipers wore special vestments when the ritual was performed (2 K. 10:22). The ordinary offering made to the god consisted of incense (Jer. 7:9). On extraordinary occasions the sacrifice was a human being (Jer. 19:5). At times the priests worked themselves into a state of ecstasy and slashed themselves with knives as they danced (1 K. 18:26, 28).

Being fully aware of the religious danger of the Baal cult to Israel, the prophet Elijah challenged Ahab, his pagan wife Jezebel, the prophets of Baal, and Baal himself (1 K. 18:20–29). The blood purge against the Baal worshipers continued under the leadership of Jehu and finally concluded after King Jehoram was killed. Jezebel was thrown out of a window to be trampled by the soldiers’ horses, and the remaining Baal worshipers were slaughtered in the temple (2 K. 9f). The cult was revived in Judah by Athaliah, Jezebel’s daughter (2 Ch. 17:3; 21:6; 22:2). After Athaliah was killed the temple of Baal was razed and the chief priest, Mattan, was slain before the altar (2 K. 11:18). Ahaz made molten images for the Baalim (2 Ch. 28:2); and despite Hezekiah’s reformation his son Manasseh erected altars to Baal (2 K. 21:3). During Josiah’s reform Hilkiah the chief priest was commanded to remove the vessels of Baal from the temple and destroy them, as well as to depose all the idolatrous priests. Obviously, Baalism was and continued to be a pronounced threat to the Hebrews throughout their history, perhaps more in Israel than in Judah.

IV. Various Forms of Baal

Baal-berith (Heb ba‘al berîṯ; Gk Baalberith), “covenant Baal,” was worshiped at Shechem after the death of Gideon (Jgs. 8:33; 9:4). In Jgs. 9:46 “El” is substituted for “Baal,” and the temple is referred to as that of El-berith, “covenant god.” Whether the covenant referred to was one made between Baal and his worshipers or between the Hebrews and the Canaanites is a matter of speculation. See Baal-Berith.

Baal-gad (Heb ba‘al gāḏ; Gk Balagada), “Baal of good fortune,” was probably the god of a town called after his name. The place may have been located in the valley of Lebanon below Mt. Hermon (Josh. 11:17) on the northern border of the land captured by Joshua (12:7; 13:5). The god is termed simply “Gad” in Isa. 65:11, where it has been translated “Fortune” and “Destiny” by the RSV and “god of Fate” and “Fortune” by the NEB. The exact location of the town is unknown, but it may be the modern Hasbeiyah. See Baal-Gad.

Baal-hamon (Heb ba‘al hāmôn; Gk Beelamōn), “lord of abundance or wealth,” is mentioned only as a place where Solomon had an extremely fertile vineyard (Cant. 8:11). The site of this place is unknown.

Baal-hermon (Heb ba‘al ḥermôn; Gk Balaermōn), “Baal of Hermon,” was perhaps a place on the northern border of Israel near or on Mt. Hermon. Apparently it was not involved in war during the conquest of Israel (Jgs. 3:3; 1 Ch. 5:23). The exact site is unknown, but some scholars believe it to be another name for Baal-gad. See Baal-Hermon.

Baal-peor (Heb ba‘al pe‘ôr; Gk Beelphegor), “Baal of Peor,” was the god of the Moabite mountains who took his name from Peor. When the Israelites dwelt in Shittim they “played the harlot with the daughters of Moab,” i.e., took part in the rituals of the pagan cult and linked themselves to Baal-peor. Because of this defection 24,000 Israelites were struck and slain by a plague (Nu. 25:1–9; Dt. 4:3; Ps. 106:28; Hos. 9:10).

Baal-zebub (Heb ba‘al zeḇûḇ; Gk Baalmyia Theos) is generally interpreted to mean “Baal the fly god.” Baal-zebub was the Philistine god at Ekron. King Ahaziah, having fallen through the lattice of his upper chamber and desiring to know whether or not he would die from his fall, sent messengers to Baal-zebub. By this act he kindled the wrath of God, and as a result he had to die (2 K. 1:1–17). Some have held that Baal-zebub was the god who could drive pesky flies away; others hold that he was able to give oracles by the buzzing of a fly.

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The Gospel

Foreword: What is the “Gospel?” What follows is one of our Grace Notes articles which describes the six uses of the term followed by the fundamentals of the term.  Links to BibleGateway are provided for the Scripture references.

The word gospel is translated from the Greek (euaggelos), which means good news. Bad news, therefore, such as doctrines pertaining to evil or to personal sins, do not properly belong under the category of the gospel.

The gospel includes all of the doctrines pertaining to salvation, including: redemption, expiation, reconciliation, propitiation, imputation, justification, positional truth, and sanctification. It also includes the doctrines pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ, including: the hypostatic union, impeccability, the deity of Christ, etc.

There are six uses of the term gospel in the New Testament:

  • The gospel of Christ; Rom. 1:16,17, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…” This is an emphasis on the person of the gospel.
  • My gospel, Rom. 2:16 This means that the gospel belongs to every believer.
  • Our gospel, 2 Cor. 4:3,4. This verse speaks of the believer’s possession of the gospel and the importance of communicating it as God gives opportunity in witnessing.
  • The gospel of peace, Eph. 6:15. This emphasizes the doctrine of reconciliation in the gospel.
  • The everlasting gospel, Rev. 14:6. This emphasizes the proximity of eternity for unbelievers during the tribulation.
  • The gospel of the kingdom, Matt. 24:14. This emphasizes the fulfillment of the unconditional covenant to the born again of Israel.

The fundamentals of the gospel are given in 1 Cor. 15:1-4.

  • Christ died as a substitute for our sins. His spiritual death means It is finished!
  • Christ died physically and was buried
  • Christ rose from the dead

The enemy of the gospel is Satan who is the ruler of this world, 2 Cor. 4:3,4.

The believer’s attitude toward the gospel is expressed in these verses:

Rom. 1:16, 20;; 1 Cor. 1:17;9:1

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Baptism

Introduction

The word baptize is from the Greek word baptidzo which means to identify or to be made one with. In early Greek, the word had both religious and secular meanings. In general, it refers to the act of identifying one thing with another thing in such a way that its nature or character is changed, or it represents the idea that a real change has already taken place.

As a reference to identification, baptize means to place a person or thing into a new environment, or into union with some one or something else, so as to alter his or its condition or relationship to the previous environment.

There are seven types of baptism mentioned in the Bible. Four of these are real baptisms and three are ritual baptisms.

Real Baptisms

  • The Baptism of Moses
  • The Baptism of the Cross or Cup
  • The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  • The Baptism of Fire

Ritual Baptisms

  • The Baptism of John
  • The Baptism of Jesus
  • The Baptism of the Christian Believer

These seven baptisms are described in the sections below.

Real Baptisms

A baptism is called real if it involves actually identifying a person with something or someone.

The Baptism of Moses

The baptism of Moses was a double identification, the children of Israel are identified both with Moses and with the cloud (Jesus Christ) as they passed through the Red Sea. No water involved and remember, they went through the sea on dry land when the waters were parted. 1 Cor. 10:1, 2.

The Baptism of the Cross or Cup

Jesus Christ drank the cup filled with our sins. Another way of expressing it is that all the sins of the world were put into one cup and poured out on Christ while He was on the cross. God the Father judged our sins while they were on Christ. Christ was identified with our sin and He bore our sins on the cross. He was made sin for us. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24.

In Matt. 20:22 Jesus speaks of the cup he is to drink as he makes a reply to the mother of Zebedee’s children. In Matt. 26:39, He prays to the Father to “let this cup pass from me . . .” Nevertheless, He determined to drink from the cup, as seen in John 18:11, “the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink from it?”

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a real baptism. When a person accepts Christ as savior, he is placed into the body of Christ. He is identified as a believer. The mechanics are given in 1 Cor. 12:13.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit did not occur in Old Testament times. The first occurrence was on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit placed the new believers into the body of Christ.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the basis for positional truth. Believers are placed in Christ, and in this position have access to many kinds of privileges and blessings. Ephesians 1 has a good description of what it means to have “all blessings in heavenly places in Him.”

The baptism of the Holy Spirit was prophesied by John the Baptist, Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16. And it was prophesied by Jesus Christ, John 14:16, 17; Acts 1:5.

The implications of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, for all believers in the family of God, are given in Gal. 3:26-28.

The principle of retroactive identification with Christ is brought out in Rom. 6:3, 4 and Col. 2:12.

The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an experience. It is not accompanied by speaking in tongues or any other kind of feeling or behavior. The things that happen to believers at the moment of salvation are accomplished by the Holy Spirit, not by us, and these things are not experiences.

The Baptism of Fire

A judgment is coming at the second coming of Christ when all nonbelievers are taken from the earth. They will join the rest of the unbelievers in torments also called Sheol, Hades and Hell to wait for the last judgment also called the great white throne judgment described in Revelation 20 at the end of the millennium. This removal of unbelievers for judgment is the baptism of fire.

Fire is a symbol for judgment all through the Bible. Examples are the fire which burned the sacrifice on the Hebrew altar and the fire from God which burned the watered down sacrifices of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

The doctrine of the baptism of fire is stated in Matt. 3:11, 12; Luke 3:16, 17; and 2 Thess. 1:7-9.

The Lord Jesus taught several parables regarding the end times when believers and unbelievers will be separated. The believers are to go into the millennium, the unbelievers are cast off into fire. These parables are analogies to the baptism of fire.

Wheat and tares – Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43.

Good and bad fish – Matt. 13:47-50.

The wise and foolish virgins – Matt. 25:1-13

The sheep and the goats – Matt. 25:31-46

Ritual Baptisms

A baptism is called a ritual baptism, or a ceremonial baptism, when water is used as a symbol for something else. It is a representative identification. The individual is placed in the water, which means, symbolically, that he is identified with that which the water represents.

The Baptism of JohnMatt. 3:6-11

Here the water is symbolic of the kingdom of God which John was preaching. When a person was baptized by John, he was testifying to his faith in the Messiah and his identification with Christ’s kingdom. The new believer was identified with the water, but the water represented a spiritual identification.

The phrase kingdom of God is a general term referring to all believers from the time of Adam until the end of the millennium. At the time of John the Baptist, all believers were pre church age Christians, although many lived on into the church age which began at the day of Pentecost.

The Baptism of Jesus

When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, water was symbolic of God’s will in salvation, namely that Jesus would go to the cross.

Believer’s Baptism

Believer’s baptism is a symbolic act in which a believer proclaims his union with Jesus Christ. It represents death to sin, to the old way of life and resurrection to a new spiritual life in Christ (Rom 6:3, 4; Col 2:11-12, Titus 3:5).

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The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

Some of work was missing. Here is the corrected version

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Definition and Description

The Holy Spirit indwells the body of the believer at the moment of salvation, 1 Cor. 6:19-20, 3:16. This indwelling provides the divine power to offset the continued presence of the sin nature  which also indwells the body after salvation. In addition to the indwelling Spirit, the filling of the Holy Spirit is required to provide the control and power for Christian living.

The sin nature continues its disruptive tactics and seeks to frustrate the plan of God for the believer’s inner life. When the sin nature controls through sin then the believer is carnal. The carnal believer behavior leads to backsliding (reversion). When the Holy Spirit controls the soul, that is the filling of the Holy Spirit. In the life of every believer, human ability must be superseded by divine ability.

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is also a sign of royal family status on earth. In the Millennium, all believers will continue to…

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