The Exile of Judah to Babylon, the City of Wonders
The Prophet Jeremiah and the Five Guardians of Solomon’s Temple Treasures
by Robert Mock MD
Edited September, 2007
The story of the Five Guardians in the Emeq HaMelekh, protecting the Treasures of Solomon’s Temple, brings us to the city of Babylon where Shimur Ha Levi, Haggai the Prophet, Zechariah the Prophet son of Iddo, Zedekiah, Hezekiah plus Ezra and Baruch the scribes record their hiding locations on parchment, copper, and two giant white marble tablets. Living in the most glorious city of the then known world, they become acquainted with former residents of the Nation of Israel, which were fast becoming part of the Lost Tribes of Israel, known in part later as the Cimmerians and the Saki.
On the Behistun Inscription north of Babylon the Saki were later described. When they first approached the city of Babylon, they walked through the Ishtar Gate, passed by the Palaces of the king, the walls of Babylon up to 300 feet tall, and the Temple of Etemenanki thought to be built over the ruins of the Tower of Babel. Nearby was the Hanging Gardens, a mountain of vegetation built with only bricks and bitumen, creating lakes, rivers and a jungle like forest.
Daniel and his three government assistants, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were living in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II, when the king sought the extermination of all the Magi and Chaldeans unless they could tell him about his dream. Daniel in a vision was shown the dream and the interpretation of a large image made with gold, silver, brass, iron and clay and eventually destroyed by a large Stone made without hands. The image in the dream evolved into a large Statue or Colossi of Nebuchadnezzar of solid gold erected for a Grand Celebration, during which the lives of the three friends of Daniel were threatened when they were thrown into a fiery furnace.
What was most important to Daniel and the Guardians was the location of the vessels that belonged to the House of the Lord, which were placed in the Temple of Esagila.
Dedicated to Jupiter the god of Babylon who was called Marduk, a large golden statue stood in the temple almost identical to the statue of Nebuchadnezzar erected on the Plain of Dura. In reality Babylon had three Wonders of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens, the Tower of Babel recreated, and a Colossi Statue which competed with the Colossi Memnon and the Colossus at Rhodes.
These are the Vessels that were taken by (buried in) the ground: the locking rods, the pegs, the boards, the rings, the standing pillars of the courtyard. These are the Vessels: 1,200,000 (1200*) silver Mizrakot (sacrificial basins); 50,000 (50*) Mizrakot of fine gold; 600,000 (600*) (?) of fine gold, and 1,200,000 (1200*) of silver. These five [men] inscribed these Mishnayot in Babylon together with the other prophets that were with them, including Ezra the Cohen, the Scribe.
*Numbers may be off by a factor of 103 due to translation so 100,000 may actually be 100.
Here is the inventory of these treasures. The place of hiding is unknown, yet the inscription of this hoard was first recorded in these Mishnayots in the great City of Babylon:
The locking rods, the pegs, the boards, the rings, the standing pillars of the courtyard.
1,200,000 (1,200) silver Mizrakot (sacrificial basin)
50,000 (50) Mizrakot (sacrificial basins) of fine gold.
600,000 (600) (unclear word - talents?) of fine gold
1,200,000 (1,200) (talents?) of silver.
The curtained outer court of the Wilderness Sanctuary (Mishkhan) was assembled as a portable barrier to define the purified and holy area upon which the Sanctuary of the Lord was to be erected. Here were the standing pillars of the courtyard, including the pegs, boards, rings and the locking rods. Where the location of this hiding area is, was not revealed. Yet in this same location was a hoard of gold and silver bullion possibly defined in term of weight of a talent of approximately 75 pounds.
Included at this hiding place also were the sacrificial basins used in the temple sacrifices. In this modern era, the value and thereby the scarcity of these two precious metals is about 10:1. From every documentation in the Egyptian empire, silver was more valuable in relationship to gold. Yet in all the Mishnayots, Solomon’s must have had a mining access to silver that was unknown to the Pharaoh’s of Egypt as all the articles or vessels created for the temple of the Lord showed at least a 2:1 ratio of silver to gold.
As we shall later see, the walls of Babylon will be recipient site of a hoard of treasures brought by the Jewish captives to Babylon and secreted there for safekeeping until the Time of the End. There is no indication that this hoard of treasures was placed in the modern kingdom of Iraq, whereas the recording of these treasures was completed in Babylon.
The Mishnayots we are reading, were not written by the Rabbabim in the 2nd and 3rd centuries when the Mishna was composed but as recorded they have a far more ancient heritage. According to the 2nd Maccabean account, assuming that the mishnayots of Emeq HaMeleck are the true ‘records’, were written prior to the first Chanukah celebration about 165 BCE.
This festival, called the Festival of Lights, was instituted by the Maccabean rulers celebrating the restoration and purification of the Temple of Zerubbabel after it had been desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes IV when he sacrificed a pig on the altar in the Holy Place.
According to these Mishnayots, they were written and recorded between 586 BCE and 520 BCE, according to conventional historical Gregorian calendar years. Yet in the Jewish calendar, the White Marble Tablets were written in the year from Adam 3331. This would correlate to the conventional year of 428/429 BCE. Yet, according to the rabbinic calendar, the Seder Olam Rabbah, the first deportation of Jewish young men, scholars and business men was in 421 BCE, seven to eight years later.
When these five Jewish Tzaddiks (righteous ones), rode these mishnayots, they were living in Babylon, who with Ezra the Cohen (priest) were still in captivity in Babylon. We do not know if all of these men was taken as captives along with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken in the first deportation of 605 BCE (421 BCE in the Sedar Olam Rabah, the rabbinic calendar. Who were the other prophets that were with them? To date we have no other revelation on these persons.
The country in which Daniel and his friends were taken as captives, was land renown for its antiquity, but in reality were really a new country and a new city. It was a marvelous city, undergoing massive reconstruction, with beautiful temples and splendid palaces and a city that visitors marveled at the curious gardens.
Evoking the ancient wonders of the Sumerians, the Chaldeans living in the parched and arid land along the Euphrates valley had been recently conquered by the Assyrians and the city of Babylon was leveled to the ground. Soon they were to become the rivals to the Assyrians for power in the Mesopotamian valley. Besides, they had axe to score with their brutal Assyrian masters. With the weakening of the Assyrians who were menaced by the Scythians, the Semitic cousins to the Israelites, the Medes, who were soon to ascend and form the Persian empire, and the Cimmerians, who many historians feel were the resettled tribes of the Nation of Israel in the Armenian highlands, Babylon soon took advantage of her weakened nemesis.
The Behistun Inscription – the Persian Rosetta Stone
It is fascinating to note as ancient history is now being revisited that the Children of Omri, the father to King Ahab, who were called the Ghomerians, the Greek Kimmerioi later the Khumerians, would as some linguists suggest, and would later be known as the Cimmerians. In the ancient Sumerian language, which the Chaldeans and the Assyrians were descendants, biblical suffix i when applied to a person means “a native of”. Therefore Gileadi meant a native of Gilead. When this is applied to the in habitants of the Nation of Israel, we call them Israeli. Whereas the inhabitants of the ancient Nation of Israel (House of Israel) were known by some of their most famous kings, such as King Omri, father of Ahab, they were also known by their ancestors, such as Isaac. As the ancient prophecy said, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called (or named).” (Gen 21:12, Romans 9:7) As the ‘sons of Isaac” over the centuries they were called the Saki, Sacae, Sacchi, Sakasani, Beth Sak, Saxones, Sachsen, and Saxons.
The most famous ancient inscription is the Behistun Rock on a cliff along the road between Hamadan in Iran and Baghdad in Iraq, near the town of Bisotun, called in the time of Daniel, Bagastana, or the ‘place where the gods dwell’. On this cliff, Darius the Great was recording his victories, an inscription not understood until Sir Henry Rawlinson deciphered it in 1840. On this massive inscription about 100 feet high and 150 feet wide, there were several references to the former inhabitants of Israel. Twenty eight times the word Kana, depicted the land of Canaan was written, including a man called “Sarocus the Sacan’ wearing a Hebrew hat. Under the list of nations is “Saka” which in the Persian and Elamite language means the same as Gimri or Ghomri in the Babylonian language. Yes, even the dispossessed tribes from the Land of Israel would wreak havoc upon the nation that caused their exile.
It was the Chaldean king Nabopolasser (626-605 BCE), who started a rebellion against Assyria in 626 BCE and by 612; he conquered the capital of Assyria in Nineveh and crushed the empire of the last king of Assyria.
On the banks of the Euphrates River, on July 25, 616 BCE, Nabopolasser defeated the forces of the king of Assyria just south of Harran. Situated on the trade route from the Mediterranean to the heart of Assyria, this ancient city of Harran was built by Abram and Terah when they fled from Nimrod. This city was named after the brother of Abram, Harran and at this town, Terah, an oracular Sumerian priest, built a temple to the Sumerian moon god Sin.
The Babylonians, combining their forces with the Median ruler Cyaxares began to attack the Empire to Assyria , first at Aššur in 614 and two years later, Nineveh was destroyed. With the loss of their two capitals, it would seem that the time of the Assyrians was over. Yet a new renegade Assyrian king, Aššur-uballit, made his new capital and kingdom at Harran in rebellion to Nabopolassar and newly arisen Babylonian empire.
As recorded in the Fall of Nineveh Chronicle, Nabopolassar 'marched to Assyria victoriously' in the fifteenth year of his reign (612 BCE) and Aššur-uballit’s forces fled the city of Harran in exile. A treaty between Assyria and Egypt was invoked and Pharaoh Necho of Egypt (610-595) sent a large military force to the north to assist the Assyrian prince in his claim to the crumbling Assyrian empire.
It was in route to Harran that the beloved Judean king Josiah met Pharaoh Necho seeking to halt this advance. We ask the question, why? In the next chapter, we will see the link between the Saki, the deported Israelites sent to the heart of the Assyrian empire by Ashurbanipal and the tribe of the Mandi, whose newly risen leader Cyaxares of the Medes who was now in league with the Babylonian ruler Nabopolasser. Was King Josiah seeking to align himself with Cyaxares against Pharaoh Necho?
It was in 605 BCE, Nabopolasser’s son, Nebuchadnezzar II, (Nabu-Kudurri-usur, 'O Nabu, protect the son'), the reigning crown prince, and commander of the Imperial forces and co-regent to the throne, was conducting his first Syrian campaign. Nebuchadnezzar was actually marching against Egypt, a nation who was also trying to reassert her ancient legacy to power. With the overthrow of the Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar also rounded up the Egyptian allies, and thereby the Kingdom of Judah and Jerusalem were captured in 605 BCE, the 4th year of Jehoiakim, king of Judah. To the Babylonians, this was actually Jehoiakim’s 3rd year, for they did not count the first partial year of rule as the first year on the throne, like the Hebrew chroniclers, who counted the regnal years of their kings.
Nebuchadnezzar II was in Judah, preparing Daniel and the hosts of royal sons and noble friends to be taken back to Babylon, when news came of his father, Nabopolaser’s death. Taking the swift route directly across the desert by camel and steed, he raced back to Babylon to secure his throne.
Following slowly behind with Nebuchadnezzar’s main forces, we find Daniel and the three worthies plus thousands of the best students and warriors of the Nation of Judah accompanying the first captured vessels of the temple of Solomon making their way as captives across the Fertile Crescent. They were destined to become a part of the greatest commercial enterprise in the ancient world.
As they approached the city of Babylon, they were greeted with the immense walls of a city that dwarfed the size of Jerusalem. The Ishtar Gate had not been built and the palace of the king’s father was still the palatial residence of Nebuchadnezzar II.
To understand the world of Daniel, the three worthies and the Jewish deportees to this land, one must know the empire built by King Nebuchadnezzar, under the religio-political realm which he governed. This was the land that demanded grandiose dreams to maintain one’s accession to the throne. The fertile mind of Nebuchadnezzar, was the source of oracular visions, evoking a great image which the God of Abraham used as the prophetic model to show a Hebrew seer and Chaldean in the court of Nebuchadnezzar the future empires that would arrive until the first coming of the messiah, Y’shua ben Yosef (Jesus, son of Joseph). These visions in this emperor’s mind would also show the prophetic history of the Jewish people until the Time of the End.
The Destruction of Jerusalem and the
Booty taken from the Temple of Solomon
According to the diary of Daniel, his last days in Jerusalem were recorded as such:
Daniel 1:2 - “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.”
This obviously does not record the emotions and insecurities of the young prince, who was a royal descendant of King Hezekiah. Recording this event in later years as a wise and aged court counselor, former prime minister of Babylon, the most noteworthy record was not the emotional trauma upon the psychic of the country and the devastation of loosing the brightest youth in the land, but what was the destination of the sacred relics that belonged within the House of their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Even the royal court scribes in Jerusalem recording these events, after eulogizing one of the greatest of the Judean kings, Josiah, declined to make any record of the reign of Josiah’s son, Jehoiakim, because “he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his fathers had done. (I Kings 23:37) To the Hebrew scribes, the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar was not just an coincidence for they state, “the Lord sent against him (Jehoiakim) bands of Chaldeans, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He spake by his servants the prophets” The armies of Nebuchadnezzar were a mixed army, bolstered by the Syrians, Amorites and Moabites living to the east of Jerusalem and rivals to the power of Judah.
But why? The dissention with the city of Jerusalem was because many in the royal courts were not seeking independence with the God of Abraham as their leader. Rather they were content to settle with what they felt was the lesser of two evils, domination by Egypt rather than domination by Babylon. The same geo-politics is seen to today in the Nation of Israel. Yet the capture of Jerusalem was not because Jehoiakim was an independent thinker, a rebel or a political chameleon that did not have the political skills to effectively pit the sympathizers of the Egyptians against those that advised allegiance with the Babylonians. No, it was rather because of Jehoiakim’s grandfather, Manasseh;
I Kings 24:3-4 -“Surely, at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of the His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; and also for the innocent blood that he shed; for he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood; which the Lord would not pardon.”
The son of Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin was no better, for he also did evil in the sight of the Lord and the story was repeated. In 597 BCE, Jehoiachin, instead of flagrant rebellion, he went out to meet Nebuchadnezzar and him and his family was taken prisoners. This time almost all the gold remaining in the Temple of the Lord plus all the treasures that were left in the House of God were taken back to Babylon.
2 Kings 24: 8,13 - “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months….And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the Lord, as the Lord had said…..
For a second time, the Lord gave the people of Jerusalem reprieve. Twenty years after his first campaign against the Judeans, this time in the reign of King Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar returned with his armies the third time.
2 Kings 25:8-10 - “And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around.”
The city was ransacked. The Temple, already stripped of its remaining treasures and most of its precious metal vessels and utensils in past campaigns, only had remaining the bronze vessels that were still being used in the service of the Temple.
2 Kings 25:13-17 - The bronze pillars that were in the house of the Lord, and the carts and the bronze Sea that were in the house of the Lord, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the spoons and all the bronze utensils with which the priests ministered. The fire pans and the basins, the things of solid gold and solid silver, the captain of the guard took away. The two pillars, one Sea, and the carts, which Solomon had made for the house of the Lord, the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure. The height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, and the capital on it was of bronze. The height of the capital was three cubits, and the network and pomegranates all around the capital were all of bronze. The second pillar was the same, with a network. (See also 2 Chron. 35:7, 36:18-19)
This invasion into Judah in the year of King Jehoiachin, has been archeologically preserved in a clay tablet called the “Babylonian Chronicle”. Here is a summary from the archives of King Nebuchadnezzar recorded in the eighth year of his reign:
Babylonian Chronicle – “…Encamped against the city of Judah and on the second day of the month of Addaru, he seized the city and captured the king. He appointed there a king of his heart, received its heavy tribute and sent (it) to Babylon.”
This same account was recorded by the royal chroniclers of Judah:
II Kings 24:12-13, 15, and 17 – “…the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him (Jehoiachim) prisoner. And he carried out from there all the treasure of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house…and he carried Jehoiachin captive to Babylon…then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his palace, and changed his name to Zedekiah.”
Jeremiah, the prophet, a lone voice who urged the king, his grandson, to submit to the submission of the yoke of Babylon, now watched the final scenes of Jerusalem’s demise. He already was viewed as a Babylonian sympathizer and a traitor to Judah. As such he was thrown into a dungeon awaiting his own death. Saved by a Babylonian, he lived to record his own account of the last hours before Jerusalem’s destruction.
Jeremiah 27:19- “For thus says the Lord of hosts concerning the pillars, concerning the Sea, concerning the carts, and concerning the remainder of the vessels that remain in this city, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take, when he carried away captive Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah from Jerusalem to Babylon, and all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem. Yes, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the Lord, and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem: “They shall be carried to Babylon, and there they shall be until the day that I visit them, says the Lord, “Then I will bring them up and restore them to this place.’”
Here we see a prophecy. The vessels were to be a sign and an indicator at a future date as to when the Lord of hosts would again revisit His people. Note carefully, the Lord of hosts states with great care that the vessels in the House of the Lord did not follow the Jewish people into captivity but rather the Jewish people followed the vessels to the land of their captors. So also, the Lord of hosts promised that He would restore those same vessels back to His home in Jerusalem and the people would follow the vessels back. That is if they chose to return.
Carefully consider this at the Time of the End. The Lord of hosts has already given in the prophets, who the vessels the Lord of hosts will be using as His mark of divine involvement during the closing days of this earth’s era. The vessels will become living vessels. Israel and Judah have been spoken many times as a “Pot” or “Vessel” in which the Lord of hosts as the Potter is molding and shaping for His use before the Great Day of the Lord. When we see the beginning of the restoration of the House of Judah and then the House of Israel back to the Land of Israel, the Gentile believers in Yeshua (Jesus) will have a great sign that the Lord of hosts is about to intervene His will into the history of man.
The Princes of Judah
Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were taken as the Judean elite, the ones (Daniels 1:4) “in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans.”
Of royal blood and noble birth, they were to be trained for government service and for the last nineteen years before the destruction of the Temple of Solomon, these four princes were studying geopolitics, international relations, political science in the halls of the greatest empire on earth. Their names, Daniel, Hanani-yah, Mishael, and Azari-yah invoking honor to their God, ‘El’ and ‘Yah’, were changed to Belteshazzar, Shadrack, Mishach and Abed-Nego in honor of Bel, the god Marduk, Aku, the moon god, and Nego or Nabu, the crown prince son of Marduk.. As Isaiah stated, (Isaiah 46:1) “Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle.”
Yet according to the story as told by Daniel, (Daniel 1:8) “he (Daniel) purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank.” They would serve in whatever capacity the Lord of hosts would choose to give them to serve, but they would still serve their God. There they watched as the armies would head to Syria and then they would witness their return with Jewish captives. These captives returning also through the Ishtar Gate of Babylon would include the young teenage king Jehoiachin with his family (2 Kings 24:10-16) and several years later King Zedekiah, blinded after all his sons, the royal heirs, were slaughtered in his presence. (2 Kings 25:7)
Daniel and his three friends lived in the palace of the king. This was where all the royal business and governmental official duties were performed. The atmosphere within the palaces was awe inspiring and it took great spiritual fortitude to be loyal civil servants to a foreign king, and at the same time know exactly where their spiritual roots were, to the God of Abram their forefather.
As royal officials, they dutifully and quietly did their official duties. As the elite of the scholars in the Royal Academies, they soon became members of the elite guild called the Chaldeans, who served as royal advisors and were instructed in the mysteries of the astronomical and earthly sciences in the temple schools of higher learning and the ziggurat observatories in the land of Babylon.
According to Daniel, he watched as a silent observer, a civil servant, serving inside the government offices which were built within the palace of the king. There he observed with almost a protective instinct the destiny of the vessels of God’s house that were brought to Babylon and placed in the Temple of Esagila, the temple of Marduk. What he did not see were the furnishings, the Ark of the Covenant, neither the menorah nor the altar of incense.
Daniel 1:2 - “And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with some of the articles of the house of God, which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god; and he brought the articles into the treasure house of his god.”
What remained of the vessels of the House of the Lord, after the entire furnishings of the Wilderness Tabernacle, the furnishings within the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies were hidden by Jeremiah and the Five Guardians, the rest were carried to Babylon during three different military campaigns by the forces of Nebuchadnezzar.
605 BCE - The initial vessels taken from the Temple of Jerusalem were selected to be sent to the museum archives of the Temple of Marduk. There in Babylon, the vessels went along with the chief of the royal sons, the elite and the thinkers in the land of Judah. It can be assumed that the best of the remaining vessels that had not been hid by Jeremiah and the five guardians of the temple treasures were sent to Babylon at this time. (Daniel 1:1-2)
597 BCE - When King Jehoiachin and his family were taken as prisoners after their switch of allegiance to the Egyptians, most of the rest of the vessels of precious metals were taken. (2 Kings 24:12-13)
586 BCE - The city was burned and razed, the temple was destroyed and the remaining vessels, mainly of bronze as well as the Bronze Sea, the Bronze Pillars in front of the Temple were taken at the capture of King Zedekiah. (2 Kings 25:13-17)
The land of Babylonia owed its prosperity to its vital and strategic position along the important Mesopotamian trade routes. The city of Babylon was strategically positioned near the north-south Tigris River trade route from Assyria to the Persian Gulf. It also straddled the Euphrates trade route going to the west and the eastern trade route going to Iran via the Zagros Mountains.
Babylon was not only the capital of the country of Babylonia, but also its religious center. It became the most populous city of the Near East under Nebuchadnezzar II. Its fame became one of legends with its showcase strength in its massive walls, the famed ziggurat reputed to have been built on the site of the more ancient Tower of Babel, the opulent Ishtar Gate, the magnificent temples and the fabled Hanging Gardens, recognized as one of the Wonders of the Ancient World.
The word, Babylon, comes from Babel, which is noted only once in the Vulgate in Genesis 11:9, which is derived from the Hebrew word, batal, meaning ‘to confound’. Outside the Bible, Babylonia is found in Baruk 1:1,4, 2:22, 6:1-3, 1 Maccabees 6:4, and II Maccabees 8:20.
To the Babylonian citizens, their name comes from the Chaldean word, bab-ilu, meaning the ‘gate of God.” Even so, the local citizens called themselves, Ka-dingir, Babi-dingir, Tintir, and Shu-an-na, for ancient Babylonia was called by its inhabitants Dingir. It is interesting to note that an inter-testament Jewish book, found in the Apocrypha was written called Daniel and Susanna, so similar to the word the Babylonians called themselves, Shu-an-na. To the Hebrew prophets, the inhabitants of Babylon were called ‘daughters of the Chaldeans.’ (Isaiah 47:1) and also Sesach or Sesac. (Jeremiah 25:26)
The Palaces of Nebuchadnezzar
Within the ruins of Babylon, the archeologists found this clay cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II. Here it describes three palaces built for the king. The first was a remodeling of the palace of his father’s, Nabopolasser (625-605 BCE) which according to the record had become in disrepair. It was a good historical renovation project, but not fit for the megalomania grandeur that the new king was beginning to envision for himself. So on the northern edge of Babylon, he built a new palace that had a blue parapet and was surrounded by massive fortifications.
Later in his reign, Nebuchadnezzar after erected the triple wall and tower fortifications around the city, built a third palace overlooking the Euphrates River. This was his ‘summer home’ with the same ventilation shafts still used today for cooling houses in the Near East. All the palaces were built with baked bricks, sealed with bitumen, while the roofs and door frames were constructed of imported cedar, cypress and fir.
The newer southern palace of Nebuchadnezzar was constructed around five courtyards which included the king’s private quarter and the quarters for his harems. Within the palace was a throne room and in two rooms behind the throne room were two oblong and one central square well shafts. At the top of the shaft was a wheel with a long line of pottery buckets that brought water up an oblong shaft, and the buckets would descend down the opposite oblong well shaft. The central square shaft was an inspection shaft for cleaning and repairs. Animals or human slaves provided the power to move the water buckets up and down this brigade.
Within the palace is also an anteroom, where officials and nobles who sought the audience of the king could go through a ritual washing plus enhancing their person with fragrances before entering the presence of their ruler, who had become sacred and deified in their land. Drains were found in the floor of the anteroom, made by clay pots in which the bottoms were removed and bricks set on end to form a rim basin.
It was the walls of Babylon that gave it its image of strength and impregnability. Built around what was believed to be the decaying and tumbled down site of the ancient Tower of Babel, according to Herodotus, the walls were 300 feet high and 80 feet thick and built with an additional 35 foot deep wall foundation. The inner walls were “not so thick as the first, but hardly less strong.” In all the walls supported a concourse wide enough to allow a four-horse chariot room enough to turn around.
Today, the archeological site of ancient Babylon is near the present town of Hille, revealing a city of about five square miles though Herodotus claims that the city was 14 square miles while the walled city was eleven miles in circumference.
It is estimated that Nebuchadnezzar II used 15 million baked bricks in the official buildings of his new empire. The bricks were large, one foot square, separated by three to four inches of mortar and were embossed or written the name of the king,
“Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who cares for Esagila and Ezida, eldest son of Nabopolasser, king of Babylon”.
Around this city was a double or possible triple wall, with over 250 guard towers and eight massive gates that were centered along this thick wall of only brick and bitumen mortar. It was the Torah and contemporary cuneiform inscriptions that assigned a very great age to the city. In Genesis 11:1-9, it testified to a command to the citizens, "Let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar."
Outside the walls was a deep moat which in times of siege could be flooded by opening up the gates of the Euphrates River and sealing off the perimeter from the enemy forces. Overall there were about 100 brass gates; twenty five of them were connecting the inner city with the Euphrates which flowed directly through the city on a diagonal route.
As Daniel and the first captives from the city of Jerusalem entered the city, they walked into the city from the north going first past a special festival house called the Bit Akitu and then taking a gentle incline they were paraded down “Processional Way”, called the Aibur-shabu, or “the enemy shall never pass”.
Flanking to the right was the imposing Northern Palace and to the left the looming military bastion. They continued to proceed onward towards the dazzling blue tiled Ishtar gate with tile baked winged lions with white or yellow manes or yellow with red manes imbedded in the dark blue tile work, the color of the royal blue stone, lapis lazuli.
The roadway was laid with huge flagstones of limestone each with an inscription of the dedication by Nebuchadnezzar II and on either were side slabs of rebeccia with white veins of minerals cascading through the mineral slabs mounting the walls. The sights were awe-inspiring with luxury and grandeur to behold. The processional way was also lined with about 120 lion statues, symbolizing the goddess Ishtar and horned bulls were imposed on the walls in molded glazed bricks.
Once they passed by the Ishtar Gate, they then marched past the Southern Palace, down a sloping street to the eight storied ziggurat tower and the temple complex that surrounded this massive ziggurat tower, called the Etemenanki.
Within the city they were confronted with a site which caused memories of revulsion within their own city of Jerusalem. One hundred eighty statutes dedicated to Ishtar were placed in strategic locations within in city, along with a total of 53 temples. Was it not their king, Manasseh who allowed statutes and altars to be placed throughout Jerusalem which according to the most famous prophet in the city, Jeremiah, was to be the cause of the eventual overthrow of the city of Jerusalem?
II Kings 22:4-6 - “He (Manasseh) built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord said, ‘In Jerusalem will I put my name. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he made his son pass through the fire (of Molach) and observed times and used enchantments, and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards: he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger.”
The city was crowded with row after row of houses two to three stories in height whose flat roofs were buttressed with timber, packed with slime and mud. Whereas the Processional Way was paved, throughout the city, the new arrivals would become well acquainted with the 24 streets which made a grid across the city. They were narrow with a width of four to twenty feet with high windowless walls on either side. Packed with raw dirt, the Jerusalemites soon found out that these streets were the dumping ground for the city garbage. After a certain amount of debris would pile up in the street, they would pack more clay on top of it. Over the years, the street would get higher and higher, eventually meaning that they soon had to walk down into their houses from the progressively elevating streets. For the poor within the city, in which wood for building construction was a luxury, there were built circular mud-brick huts, supported by a central support pole and walls packed with a mixture of reeds and mud.
The aristocrats and the nobles in the city had houses and palaces with separate bath areas where they could refresh themselves from the intense heat or to anoint themselves with oils and fragrances. Any bathing by the common residence was done on the banks of the canals that ran through the city or the courtyard cisterns.
The bathroom of a noble was usually about 15 feet square and constructed on the southern end of the house. The lower part of the walls and the floor were baked bricks and the floor was surfaced with a smooth layer of a composition of bitumen and powdered limestone. It was delicately sloped to the center in which the water ran off in baked or glazed earthenware tile water runways.
Archeologist have searched for evidence of clay bathtubs in this city, as history documents such tubs in the palace of Sargon the Great, the Assyrian king of Nineveh from 721 to 705 BCE. Conclusion to date suggests that Nebuchadnezzar’s bath was actually a shower, poured over him by slaves of a watery soap mixture of ashes of designated plants and fats. Some suggest this was more like a detergent rinse.
Privies and commodes appear to have their origin near this era. Again the archeology of the palace of Sargon the Great showed an exotic array of six ‘toilets’ with high seats like the modern western toilet. Cesspools were unearthed, with drains connections to a main sewer that was 3.28 feet high, and 16 feet long, vaulted over with baked bricks. This sewer ran below the pavement along the outer wall of the palace.
Within the city, a ferry would take people from one side of the Euphrates to the other. In the coregent era of Nebuchadnezzar II and his son Nabonidatus, a draw bridge on stone peers, 100 feet long and 30 feet wide, was placed across the river. There was even a tunnel under the river 15 feet wide and 12 feet high, used for vehicular traffic.
The most sacred of the temples was the temple of Esagila, which in Sumerian meant, ‘The house that rises its head’, built to honor the Supreme god, Marduk. According to Daniel, within the sacred confines of the temple of Nebuchadnezzar’s god, Marduk, the Temple of Esagila, the sacred vessels from the temple of Solomon were placed for custody and safekeeping.
Situated in the center of Babylon, the Temple of Esagila housed two courts, the first was 40x70 meters and then to a smaller court 49x25 meters. Inside the temple shrine were two sacred rooms, the holy place and the ‘holy of holies’ which stood the golden statue of Marduk and his consort Zarpanitum. This temple was still functional in the 1st century BCE less than a hundred years before the time of Christ.
Herodotus in his book, The History of the Persian Wars (c.430 BCE) gives a description of the Temple of Marduk called the Esagila.
Herodotus I.183: “There is a second temple, in which is a sitting figure of Jupiter [Marduk], all of gold. Before the figure stands a large golden table, and the throne whereon it sits, and the base on which the throne is placed, are likewise of gold. The Chaldeans told me that all the gold together was eight hundred talents' weight. Outside the temple are two altars, one of solid gold, on which it is only lawful to offer sucklings; the other a common altar, but of great size, on which the full-grown animals are sacrificed. It is also on the great altar that the Chaldeans burn the frankincense, which is offered to the amount of a thousand talents' weight, every year, at the festival of the god.”
In the time of Cyrus there was likewise in this temple a figure of a man, twelve cubits high, entirely of solid gold. I myself did not see this figure, but I relate what the Chaldeans report concerning it. Darius, the son of Hystaspes, plotted to carry the statue off, but had not the hardihood to lay his hands upon it. Xerxes, however, the son of Darius, killed the priest who forbade him to move the statue, and took it away. Besides the ornaments which I have mentioned, there are a large number of private offerings in this holy precinct.”
Here we see within the Temple of Esagila, the most sacred of the Babylonian temples and the temple to the god of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, a large golden image of a man that appears to be standing in the presence of the large golden sitting image of the god Marduk, the god of Babylon.
Where did this image come from? In whose image was this image made? Did Herodotus leave us with a secular historical account of the Biblical Golden Image of Nebuchadnezzar?
Understanding that the golden image in the Most Holy Place of the Temple of Esagila was recorded many years after Nebuchadnezzar had died, it still documents one fact, the god of Nebuchadnezzar was Marduk. As we will learn later the god of Nabonidus and Belshazzar was not Marduk, but rather Sin. Every evidence suggests that the golden “figure of a man” was created during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar and documented in the reign of Cyrus the Great. Did Nebuchadnezzar build two images or figures in the likeness of man? The historian has to seriously pause and consider that Herodotus’ image was the same “Golden Image” that Nebuchadnezzar erected in the Plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon.
The image to Nebuchadnezzar built on the plain of Dura was “threescore (60) cubits and the breadth thereof six cubits.” (Daniel. 3:1) yet the Golden Statue of Marduk was only twelve cubits or about 20 feet tall.
Was this the same statue, with a different base put under it? Both were made of gold. Both appear to be in the image of a man. Assuming the aspiration and deification of Nebuchadnezzar by his people, the king had become the personification of their god, Marduk. Both also seem to be shadowy types of the erection of the “Image to the Beast” which the world will pay homage with their foreheads (knowledge and mental assent) and their hands (physical giving to the king) and will personify the “Mark of the Beast” and the desecration of the temple of the Lord as he, the Anti-Messiah, called the “Messiah the Prince” will seek to sit in the seat of the Most High.
At the time of the dedication of the golden image on the Plain of Dura, Daniel’s political status had now been elevated to sit in the “gate of the king” (Daniel. 1:49), at the judgment seat where the chief councilors and judges sat. He was recognized as one the supreme advisors or one of the ‘wise men’ of the realm. These were the king’s closest confidants, they were the Chaldeans also known as the Magi, the magicians or astrologers in the king’s inner council.
The Magi and the royal court should have been most grateful to Daniel for he saved their lives by tapping into the conduit of divine wisdom, when the Lord of hosts, revealed to him a dream that Nebuchadnezzar could not even remember. It was the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, and he awakened greatly disturbed about a dream one evening. He did not want an interpretation of the dream, he wanted the dream to be revealed to him because he could not even remember it. It affected his psychic, causing him to become mentally disturbed, depressed and began having panic attacks over this event.
The Chaldeans, known as the Magi or wise men, kept advising the king, “Let the king tell his servants the dream and we will show you the interpretation of it.” (Daniel 2:4). Nebuchadnezzar was wiser than this. Anyone can give an interpretation, whether valid or not, but to be a revealer of the secrets of the gods, would take a man who was endowed with wisdom and special skills from God. His response to the Chaldeans was,
Daniel 2:4 - “The thing (dream) is gone from me: if you will not make known unto me the dream with the interpretation of it, you shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.”
This was getting serious. Wipe out the whole echelon of royal advisors was within the power of Nebuchadnezzar and his edict was indicative of his disturbed human mind. This edict was not just to those sitting in the court of the king at that time but to all the Magi in the whole land of Babylon.
Daniel was not in the king’s court at the time of this confrontation. He was presented with the edict of the king by Arioch, the king’s captain of the royal guard. With great diplomacy and almost assuredly a palpitating heart, he asked Arioch, the king’s captain to request of the king a short time to summon the God of his fathers for a special revelation. What courage! What faith! Daniel was not skilled in oracular revelations. But he had faith that the Lord of host, the God of his forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would honor this request. With his friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, they enter into a special prayer season with their Lord. In a dream, while asleep, Daniel was revealed not only the dream of the king, but the meaning. The Lord of hosts was speaking with Daniel as a conduit for the revelations of the Most High.
In the presence of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, known as Belteshazzar, quickly informed the king that he did not come with any special oracular skills, but that “there is a God in heaven that reveals secrets, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days” (Daniel 2:28)
The king in his dream had seen a great image. It had a head of gold, the chest and arms were of silver, the abdomen and thighs of brass, the legs of iron and the feet a mixture of iron and miry clay mingled with the seed of men. (Daniel 2:43) And then there was a stone, ‘cut out without hands’ that would shatter and destroy this image.
This was not just an image, it was a warp tunnel into the prophetic future. The image whose “brightness was excellent…and the form of the image was terrible.” This word, terrible is a unique word to the Bible, Chaldean in origin, dchiy, (Strong’s 1763) meaning to fear, to be formidable, to make afraid or dreadful. No, this was not a happy dream and Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of the world with the power and ego to match was truly disturbed.
And then the God of heaven introduced Nebuchadnezzar to the Kingdom of God. It would rise up in the era of the kingdoms of gold (Babylon), silver (Medo-Persia), brass (Greece) and iron (Rome) and then the feet of iron and clay (the Islamic and European) nations that would inherit the vast reaches of these empires. This stone that was ‘cut out without hands’, would become the central focus of the prophetic dream. Within the realm of Nebuchadnezzar and standing before him was a remnant of the people that would eventually form the foundation of this kingdom, the House of Judah. That dusty little capital, with a glorious temple, Jerusalem, would someday become the capital of that glorious kingdom in the future millennium.
Daniel, now known as Belteshazzar, was suddenly vaulted to the top echelon of the Babylonian government. He became the prime minister or ruler of the main province of Babylon, chief of the governors of the provinces (2:48), and master of the magicians or wise men of Babylon. (4:9) In turn, Belteshazzar, named his three trusted and loyal Jewish friends now called Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, as the Ministers of Governmental Affairs of the Imperial Government in Babylon.
Nebuchadnezzar continued to brood over the image. He could care less about the future. He wanted to secure his legacy in the present. He was not satisfied with being the head of the statue he wanted to become the whole statue. And so he built the statue, of himself, all of gold. Here he could impose upon all his subjects and governmental rulers the idea of the universal glory of his kingdom that would last forever. Here was a monument, a total of 103 feet in height, including the pedestal of the statute and 10 feet in width. In reality, comprehending balance and aesthetic proportions of human form, the statute was about 52 feet on a pedestal of 30 - 40 feet in height.
Megalithic statutes are well known in antiquity. The Colossi of Memnon at ancient Thebes in Upper Egypt was a stone built statute of King Amenhotep II, the father of Akhenaten, was about 65 feet high. Compare this with the Statute of Liberty in the New York harbor, which is 305 feet tall, yet the Statute herself is only 111 feet. If this same ratio 1:3 were put on the sixty cubit statue of Nebuchadnezzar, the golden statue would be about 20 cubits or less, much closer to the size of the statue of Marduk in the Temple of Esagila.
The ancient Colossus at Rhodes, known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world stood over 70 feet in height as it was built over the harbor of the city of Rhodes. It was dedicated to the god Helios and was built from the booty of the war left behind by Demetrius Poliorcetes when he raised his unsuccessful siege of Rhodes in 305 BCE.
The name for the Plain of Dura, where the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar originally stood, survives in the name of a tributary off the Euphrates River called Nahr Dura which is about 5 miles below Hille, the present city near the ruins of Babylon. Therefore five miles from the great city of Babylon, near the tributary river called Nahr Dura was the great Plain of Dura. Here the king summoned all the government leaders of his empire, the princes, and the governors of the provinces, the captains of the hosts, the judges, the treasurers, the counselors, the sheriffs and the provincial rulers to come to a special dedication service.
This was an auspicious and august gathering. Zedekiah, king of Judah, recognized as one of the governors of the vassal state in the province of Judah was also summoned to this gathering in the 4th year of his reign about 594/593 BCE. Accompanying the king was his chamberlain, Seraiah ben Neriah ben Maaselah, who was to take an oracle against Babylon. While walking along the majestic walls towering over the Euphrates, he was to attach a stone to this manuscript and toss it into the Euphrates, saying “Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her…” (Jeremiah.51:59-64). It should be interesting to note that Seraiah and Baruk the scribe for Jeremiah were both sons of Neriah. Can we assume that Seraiah and Barak were brother?
Here also is cast the epic account of the three Hebrew worthies, Daniel’s friends in the Ministry of Affairs Office that were cast into a fiery furnace because they refused the bow down to the golden statute in allegiance to King Nebuchadnezzar. No doubt, King Zedekiah did not have any compunction about giving allegiance to the king and the god of the Babylonian king, Marduk. Besides, soon after Zedekiah returned to Jerusalem, he formed an alliance with the Egyptian and revolted against Nebuchadnezzar. The rest is now history.
Credits and Links:
Bible Searchers Sites
The Oracles of Zechariah by Robert D. Mock MD
Jeremiah and the Five Guardians of Solomon’s Temple Treasures by Robert D. Mock MD
Vendyl Jones Research Institute Sites
Vendyl Jones Research Institute Home Page
Emeq Hamelekh by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute
The Copper Scroll and the Escavations at Qumron by Vendyl Jones
Dead Sea Scroll Deception Part One by Vendyl Jones
Dead Sea Scroll Deception Part Two by Vendyl Jones
Dead Sea Scroll Deception Part Three by Vendyl Jones
The Ark of the Covenant by Vendyl Jones
A Door of Hope by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute
Ashes for Beauty--The Mysterious Ashes of the Red Heifer by Jim Long
The Gate Between Two Walls, by Vendyl Jones
Vendyl Jones and the Ark of the Covenant by Gerard Robins
Temple Mount Sites
The Temple Institute on recreation the Furnishing for the New Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem by the Temple Mount Organization
The Gihon Springs Temple Site by Ernest Martin
Emeq HaMelekh Sites
Emeq HaMelekh by Robert D. Mock MD
Emeq Hamelekh by the Vendyl Jones Research Institute
The Temple and the Copper Scrolls by the Order of the Nazorean Essenes
The Treasures in the House of the Lord by Lambert Dolphin
Ancient Babylon collection of pictures by Joseph Berrigan
Babylon Archeology by the British Museum
Iraq’s Ancient Babylon bites the dust by Kevin Tibbles
Babylon, Persia and Judaism by Ancient World from Britannica India
Herodotus by the Ancient History Sourcebook
Herodutus and the City of Babylon by J. Andrew McLaughlin
Greek Reports on Babylon, Chaldea and Assyria by Ancient History Sourcebook
Babylon by the Catholic Encyclopedia New Advent
Babylon Why the Confusion by Zion Ministry
Cybermuseum Mesopotamia by Jay Dambroso
Babylonian by CrystalLinks
Links - The Ancient World by Frank Smitha of Britannica India
The Dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar
The Fall of Nineveh by Jona Lenderling
Opis or Ancient Baghdad by Jona Lenderling
Baghdad, Ancient Center for Jewish Life by Eliezer Segel
Nabuchodonosor by the Catholic Encyclopedia New Advent
Nidintu-Bel, Nebuchadnezzar III by Jona Lenderling
Arakha, Nebuchadnezzar IV by Jona Lenderling
Hanging Gardens and the Temples Esagila and Etememanki
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Alaa Ashmawy
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon by the UnMuseum
The History of Plumbing - Babylonia by The Plumber
The Tower of Babel by the UnNatural Museum
Temple of Esagila by Jona Lenderling
Akitu Festival of the New Years by Jona Lenderling
Cyrus and Persia
Cyrus takes Babylon by Jona Lenderling
Zopyrus and the Capture of Babylon by Jona Lenderling
Gobryas by Jona Lenderling
The Behistun Inscription by Jona Lenderling
Susa, favorite capital of Darius the Great by Jony Lenderling
The Colossus of Rhodes by Alaa Ashmawy
Message from BibleSearchers
BibleSearchers scans the world for information that has relevance on the time of the end. It is our prayer that this will allow the believers in the Almighty One of Israel to “watch and be ready”. Our readiness has nothing to do trying to halt the progression of evil on our planet earth. In our readiness, we seek to be prepared for the coming of the Messiah of Israel so that goodness and evil will be manifested in its fullest. Our preparation is a pathway of spiritual readiness for a world of peace. Our defender is the Lord of hosts. The time of the end suggests that the Eternal One of Israel’s intent is to close out this chapter of earth’s history so that the perpetrators of evil, those that seek power, greed and control, will be eliminated from this planet earth. The wars of the heavens are being played out on this planet earth and humans will live through it to testify of the might, power, justice and the love of the God of Israel. In a world of corruption and disinformation, we cannot always know what the historical truth is and who is promoting evil or mis-information. We cannot guarantee our sources but we will always seek to portray trends that can be validated in the Torah and the testimony of the prophets of the Old and the New Testament.
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