|Exploring Ancient History - The First 2500 Years
PART 1: THE PRE-FLOOD WORLD
Tubalcain, Lamech, and the Significance of Myths Now it is time to pay attention to another key figure of the pre-flood world, Tubalcain, the son of Lamech by Zillah. A preliminary look at the family of Lamech showed that he was a man famous for his military exploits and that he made weapons of warfare out of brass and iron. He was a strong man and a leader, a force to be reckoned with! The story of the tactics, exploits, and travels of Tubalcain provides us with an incomparable insight into the world as it was before the Deluge!
Tubalcain's Army Tubalcain, we are told in an account Diodorus of Sicily, made a military campaign over all the inhabited world. This campaign lasted for several years.
But Tubalcain's method of conquest was unique, to say the least! Though his motives were entirely selfish and dishonest, he had to make conditions appear innocent, harmless and friendly. So he chose a very unusual kind of army. His army was composed of women! It was a very clever ruse.
Tubalcain wanted to gain popular acclaim. To accomplish this he led his band of women around from place to place and organized festivals which included eating, drinking, musical contests, and entertainment. He taught men how to make wine and other alcoholic beverages. All this was done under the name of culture and social refinement. He said he wanted to increase people's aesthetic tastes. Needless to say, the majority thronged to meet him.
To add to the total effect, the band of women carried wands wreathed in ivy and vine leaves with a pine cone at the top. This too was designed to contribute to the aesthetic flavor of the over-all image they were successfully putting across to the masses. But, as we shall see, these wands had a dual purpose.
Tubalcain not only brought the populace "culture" — he also brought them religion, his kind of religion. He had secret rites or mysteries into which he initiated both men and women. However, there were separate rites for the men and separate ones for the women. Thus he also used secrecy to appeal to the natural curiosity of gullible people. Tubalcain's method was to appeal to human nature by methods which were labeled "culture," "refinement", "religion", and "liberty". But actually HE WAS SPREADING DRUNKENNESS, BRIBERY, IMMORALITY, AND RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION!
A prime example was in the religious phase of his campaign. There were those who said that he was leading his band of women around because he was sexually immoral and that his secret rites were designed to seduce the wives of other men. This, of course, was the truth. Therefore such skeptical people had to be eliminated. How were these impious doubters exterminated? They were torn limb from limb by the woman followers of Tubalcain.
Demon Possession There were reasons why women could be guilty of such horrible deeds. Tubalcain had such far-reaching success because he had "supernatural powers". In other words, he was demon influenced and often demon possessed! As a result, his women followers were not "normal" either. They were actually frenzied women who were not in control of their own minds! Thus, by his evil spiritual influence, Tubalcain was able to make them do whatever be wanted. Note also that their demonic condition would cause them to have much more strength than they would normally possess.
History provides a modern-day example of this in the case of Hitler's effect on the masses. He influenced them by his Satanic oratory. And it was not unusual for women in Germany in the 1930's and 1940's to go into frenzies at the presence of the Feuhrer! The women were more vulnerable to this influence than the men.
Tubalcain was actually guilty of religious persecution. He exterminated anyone who did not agree with him. In short, he was simply trying to do what Cain and the family of Cain had consistently tried to produce — one race (through racial intermarriage), one religion, one government, one society, ONE WORLD! There was to be no opposition to this dictatorship!
Tubalcain's Military Expeditions Tubalcain did more than use his army of women for seducing the masses with festivals and secret religious rites and for religious persecutions. He also used them as warriors. His method was extremely deceptive! When he wanted to surprise a ruler whose area he intended to conquer, he would distribute to the women, instead of their wands, spears tipped with iron but covered with ivy for camouflage! Then, when everything looked harmless and no attention was being paid to these women, they would attack and kill their unsuspecting victims!
On his long campaign Tubalcain led his army over the Near East and into Europe. They wandered from India to Arabia, through North Africa, and up into Greece, Thrace, and other areas of Europe. This shows there were no national boundaries as exist today. That world was not divided into nations and countries.
There were no established national governments. God had set a boundary for Cain but this was no longer respected by the populace as the world became more an more lawless. God did set a boundary but He did not try to enforce an "Iron Curtain"!
When Tubalcain returned from his campaign with a large amount of booty and spoil, a great parade, a triumphant procession, was held. Everyone was informed of his great triumphs and successes. This shows that Tubalcain was operating in a world in which the population was now great enough that one could establish fame and a reputation. This could not have been true in all the earlier centuries before Lamech and Tubalcain. But now, as the world was getting more and more lawless, and as the population was multiplying rapidly, men could become famous leaders in the eyes of the masses.
This gives us a picture of the world in the several centuries prior to the Flood. Personages in the line of Cain were establishing themselves as famous strong men, leaders and heroes. And, in the Bible, God calls our special attention to some of these. More will be said on this as the pre-Flood story reaches its culmination. This is not to say that Tubalcain was the only man to lead an army. Nor may he have been the only one to use women as he did. Others may well have later copied his methods, both in the pre-Flood world and after. Also he must have used male soldiers in many cases. But his activities give us an insight into the kind of society that world had.
It is interesting to note that, since Tubalcain was a violent and immoral man, he had a wife befitting his character. She was a promiscuous and liscentious individual who was no more faithful to Tubalcain than he was to her. In the statues of her (she is called Aphrodite by the Greeks later) she is pictured either with no clothes above her midriff, or with no clothing at all. She too was a very unpleasant and distasteful individual! And Tubalcain richly deserved her as a wife!
Lamech Versus Tubalcain Tubalcain not only lived violently — he DIED violently. Jewish tradition presents the interesting evidence that HE DIED AT AN EARLY AGE. Here is the story behind this event.
Tubalcain, as we saw, became very popular and widely known. In fact, he gained so much power and prestige that he was challenging his father Lamech for world leadership. Tubalcain was winning the major acclaim of society. It came to the point where Lamech saw that his only recourse was to eliminate this man even though it was his own son. When it comes to a struggle for power at the highest levels it seems that people will stop at nothing to attain or maintain leadership. Numerous episodes in history make this abundantly clear. And the pre-Flood world was certainly no exception!
Lamech and Tubalcain were two of a kind. It was almost inevitable that they should clash. Finally the moment of truth came. All the details of the event are not known at this time. However, by some method, Lamech succeeded on causing the frenzied women followers of Tubalcain to turn on him! Always, up until this time, Tubalcain had been able to sway these demonic females to carry out his bidding. But, in a moment of forgetfulness — or probably drunkenness — while he was not aware of what his charges were doing, Lamech influenced them to move against Tubalcain.
They treated him as he had had them treat others! THEY TORE HIM LIMB FROM LIMB! It is not difficult to imagine that the death of Tubalcain was perpetrated in the revelry of celebration after a successful "culture" campaign. As indicated above, Tubalcain could have been drunk, having thrown all restraint to the winds. When Lamech observed this situation, he saw his opportunity and turned the women, in their blind frenzy, upon their debauched leader!
Realizing the dramatic and climactic way in which pivotal events often occur in history, this is not at all a far-fetched picture. Leaders and nations often fall at the height of their power. This was a fitting end for a leader of horrible religious persecution and one who had promoted a religion in which he had make himself a GOD!
The Dual-Meaning of Lamech's Poem THIS STORY PROVIDES THE BACKGROUND FOR LAMECH'S FAMOUS PRE-FLOOD POEM! (Gen. 4:23-24). It gives his words real and terrible significance. He boasted to his wives, "I have slain A GREAT MAN * FOR WOUNDING ME, and a YOUNG MAN for bruising me"! (* The Hebrew word for "man" in this scripture can mean a "great or mighty" person, a "champion, See no. 376 in the Hebrew dictionary of Strong's Concordance.)
As we now know, the great man was the aged patriarch of the family, Cain, and the young man * was his own son Tubalcain! (* Dr. Hoeh says probably also Enoch) Lamech was telling the famous story of how he had gotten rid of those who had challenged him IN THE POWER STRUGGLE FOR WORLD LEADERSHIP! Cain, Lamech, and Tubalcain were the great leaders of GODS before the Flood. They are the key individuals God wants us to take note of, and so He preserved clues about them and their activities in Genesis 4. Using these Biblical hints as a basis, the necessary background can be gleaned from other ancient sources!
But we have not yet exhausted the full significance of Lamech's poetic pronouncement! His words may be understood from another point of view:
Remember the discussion in Chapter 4 of the strong indication that Lamech also martyred Enoch, the righteous servant of God. Surprisingly enough, this event is also reflected in Lamech's words! Notice — this poem can be understood as referring to one person instead of two: "I have slain a great man for wounding me, EVEN (rather than and) a young man for bruising me." When rendered in this manner, we see that Lamech could have been referring to Enoch as well as Cain and Tubalcain:
Josephus indicates that Lamech was skilled in matters such as this, that he could very easily have invented a poem with a purposely intended dual meaning! And the original Hebrew of this verse allows two possible renderings. A similar example may be found in Genesis 10:11 where the verse may be understood to refer to Asshur or Nimrod or both! See the marginal rendering.
Now the full meaning of Lamech's words can be realized. He was not only telling of two famous people he killed — he was actually referring to THREE: Cain, Tubalcain, and Enoch!
And now finally, notice the last part of Lamech's famous poem as contained in Genesis 4:24: "If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold!" In other words, boastful Lamech was saying, "Cain was to be avenged sevenfold, but I'm so much more important — eleven times more important"! That was his utterly vain opinion of himself!
The Source of Jewish Tradition In relation to this, recall again the Jewish tradition, discussed in Chapter 4, That Lamech killed Cain. Lamech's very allusion to Cain in his poem seems solid confirmation this tradition is valid and provides necessary historical background to give full meaning to the Bible record.
What, then, was the basis for Jewish tradition? Such tradition may or may not have been built on external written material, but certainly it was based upon a knowledge of the implication of scripture. Moses included everything he put into the Bible for a reason — he didn't copy items down from outside sources just to take up space. Then, when he taught the scriptures, he would bring in this documentary background material to elaborate on the scriptural record. And Jewish tradition was based directly on the teachings Moses had given on these subjects. Thus there is no reason, for example, why he may not have often used this story of the slaying of Cain by Lamech! Now think of the history preserved by Josephus. Where did he learn so much about Cain? How did he know, among other things that Cain's city had a great stone wall around it? There is no mention of this in the Bible. Yes, Josephus was very familiar with the ancient Jewish traditions which sprang from the teachings of Moses! That was his source, that is why he could greatly enrich the Biblical record. Besides Jewish tradition, however, there were other ancient traditions extant in the world — pagan traditions — which also alluded to pre-Flood times. What of them? Can they also add to our knowledge of that doomed society? Behind the Facade of Myth is History!
During the course of this account it has been indicated that Cain is the Cronus of Mythology, that Lamech was a Zeus, that Tubalcain was Vulcan and his wife was Aphrodite, and that Naamah is equivalent to Athena. This raises an important question: What were the myths?
The answer to this question involves some of the most fascinating material about this surprising story of the pre-Flood world!
Make no mistake! The myths of ancient Greece and Rome were not mere figments of imagination. They were not fairy taleish wisps of thought of people who had no knowledge of past events! Myths were RELIGIOUS stories intentionally and purposefully altered in their outside framework (taken out of their historical context or removed from a correct chronological setting) so as to APPEAR Mythological. The intent of the myths — as was the intent of all the pagan religions — was to hide from the unlearned, the average man on the street (the esoteric), what had really happened in the past while at the same time to reveal to the initiate, the man who had inside knowledge of the mysteries (the esoteric,) what these past events were all about!
It must be understood that ALL the pagan philosophers and/or theologians practiced a "double doctrine" method of teaching. Men like Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and others, always had two doctrines — two sets of teachings. Their intimate disciples were told the truth (that is, as much as the philosophers understood) while, invariably, the common people were fed as many bold-face lies as was necessary to control them and render them governable! But, strange as it may seem, Plato, and the other philosophers before and after him, felt no guilt in teaching this way. They felt that lies were necessary. They believed that the people NEEDED to be DECEIVED — ESPECIALLY IN THE REALM OF RELIGION! They felt it was a useful part of good government to keep the masses deceived about many things. Now it becomes clear why the myths were invented and perpetuated!
It is important to realize also that all the Greek traditions or myths have come down in the form of dramas written by the Greek authors. And these dramas were performed at open-air theaters in Athens and other locations. These plays were presented to supposedly honor the gods and to teach good conduct to citizens. The average Greek thought he was being religious while enjoying the performance — but actually he was being fooled in regard to the real truth about the past! Again it should be emphasized that these dramas had an entirely religious connotation. A parallel may be drawn with the Middle Ages when religious dramas called miracle plays (stories of the saints) and mystery plays (stories of the Bible were performed for the common people who could not read.
Another important factor to bear in mind is that, in many cases, individual names of mythological personages (thought to be gods or goddesses) occur in writings that are by no means fictional but were recorded by men who were historians. Unfortunately, to a very great extent, almost everything from ancient Greece has been labeled myth whether it was the work of demented poets like Homer or Hesiod or the work of a sane historian such as Herodotus! It should be made clear that these historians themselves, such as Diodorus, used these names because they recognized that behind the facade of a given myth were certain actual historical events. An example is the "Myth of North Africa" which is soon to be discussed.
Understanding the Myths Now for some specific examples. First consider Cronus (Kronos), called Saturn by the Romans, who was the son of Uranus. The myths say that he was the ancient god of seed sowing and that he was dethroned by Zeus. Here, in actuality, is the story of Cain who was the first to practice agriculture and who was slain by Lamech!
The myths further tell us that the father of Cronus was Uranus. Uranus was the first "king". This term "king" often means a ruler or patriarch. And Uranus is sometimes presented as the husband of Gaea. Gaea was "mother earth" — that is, the mother of all living on earth! The Greeks myths also state that Uranus and Gaea were the first man and women! This could be none other than Adam and Eve!
The goddess known as Hera among the Greeks and Juno among the Romans was also considered the "Mother of all Living", the original "Queen of Heaven", or the "Mother of Childbirth". This is also is Eve!
This fact serves to introduce a key point about the myths: IN some cases, several names were applied to the same individual; in other instances, several separate historical figures were given the same name. Thus, in understanding the myths, it becomes necessary to separate out the different descriptions and apply them properly on the bases of the Bible account. So keep this factor in mind when reading the succeeding paragraphs. Actually, this twin device of making one many or making many into one is what makes myth a myth. This was deliberately conjured up by the pagan religious leaders to cloud the true meaning!
Sometimes one name was applied to different personages both human and divine! Consider the Greek god Zeus (whom the Romans called Jupiter.) Zeus was the husband of Iicra (Juno) and the "Father of All Mankind". This could be no one but Adam. Yet Zeus was also the FATHER OF ALL LIFE, the father of all the "gods". In this sense Zeus is God Himself. After all, the Greeks did retain some knowledge of the true God, as did all ancient peoples. Bear in mind that Lamech, husband of Adah and Zillah, was also called Zeus. This Zeus was the father of Athena or (Naamah). Lamech was a "Zeus" in the sense that he was the strong man of his day, the most famous man in the line of Cain before the Flood — a Zeus by reputation, in other words! And, in another important sense, he was a "Father of Life" when we consider that he was the father of the key person in the family of Cain who lived through the Flood — Athena or Naamah!
The derivation of the word "Zeus" is important. Many scholars admit that this term comes from the word "Zee" meaning "life" (with the "s" being added as it often is in Greek names). As already stated, God is the father of all life, Adam the father of human life, and Lamech the father of a life that came through the Flood — and so it becomes clear why this name would be applied.
This presents another important factor, the basis of mythological "names." Actually these "names" were not really names at all but close derivatives of Greek words which had significant meanings. Thus these mythological names were really TITLES WHICH IMPLIED CHARACTERISTICS of real (not fictional) historical personalities. We find similar usage's of this type in the Bible: for instance, Isaac means "laughter" and Jacob means "supplanter."
Let's move on to Vulcan or (Vul-Cain) whom we have identified as Tubalcain. "Vulcan" was what the Romans called him, while to the Greeks he was Hephaestus. This was the god of light or fire. In one part of the myths he is uniquely described as having fallen from heaven like lightening — and the volcanoes we have on earth are the result of his work — because he rebelled and brought destruction and chaos! This, plainly, is the story of Satan! It could not be the description of a human being.
On the other hand, Hephaestus of Vulcan was a god-hero who worked with fire, used it to forge implements out of iron, and developed certain arts and crafts. Webster's dictionary describes him as "the god of fire and of metalworking". He was the "god of fire" in the sense that he worked with fire in doing his metalwork. Here, plainly, we are dealing with the description of a mortal man! In this case we again have an instance of one name being applied to more than one personage — one a human, the other a spirit.
One of the most famous of Greek goddesses was Athena. The city of Athens was named in her honor! To all Greeks she was a symbol of courage, self-control, weaving, and skilled in the arts of war! What famous pre-Flood woman had these remarkable characteristics. None other than Naamah, daughter of Lamech and sister of Vulcan or Tubalcain. In Chapter Three it was stated that Jewish tradition showed her to be famous as a weaver of cloth. And, since the mighty Tubalcain was her brother, she undoubtedly took up some of his war-like practices. That is why Athena is sometimes pictured brandishing a spear and was regarded as being a goddess of war as well as of weaving. Only Naamah could fit this seemingly incongruous description!
Now Athena is never associated with Aphrodite (called Venus by the Romans). Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty ant sensual love. She was actually a harlot or prostitute! Venus was the wife of Vulcan in pre-Flood times and so is the Semiramis of post-Flood history. She was actually a very distasteful type of person. She is mentioned here to show the contrast with Athena. These famous women were entirely different types of individuals. Only if they had been real women in real life with a definite impact on actual history — only then could they be this clearly delineated in character and actions!
Myths Contain Story of Pre-Flood World From the foregoing we come to recognize this fact, at the basis of every myth, there is a core of truth A drop of water cannot exist without some particle of matter around which the water can collect. It is the same with a myth. The formation of a myth is not possible without some historical material as a foundation. Every myth whether it be of the activities of Cain or Lamech, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, the death of Nimrod, or whatever other myths the Gentile nations have — had a core of truth. And, when all is said and done, that basic germ of truth is always to be found in the Bible! As Dr. Hoeh wrote in the Compendium of World History: "In fact, the only reason for ever inventing myth is to hide, obscure or pervert some evidence or truth. Once the source of Truth — the Bible — is manifest, the difference between myth and fact becomes readily apparent" (Vol. I, page 443).
The examples and principles summarized here lead to the inevitable conclusion that what is contained in the myths, and what pagans have attempted to hide from the world, is, in actual fact, the story of what happened before the flood! Of course, many myths are also concerned with post-Flood events and individuals. But primarily they deal with events and famous people who lived in the pre-Flood world — people whom the pagans elevated to the status of "gods" and "goddesses"!
Any attempt to make sense out of the myths by applying all events in them to occurrences after the Flood ends in failure. The events and people described, as well as the picture of geography that is presented, often do not fit into the framework of the post-Flood world. For example, in the second volume of the writings of the famous historian, Diodorus of Sicily, there is a account called the "Myth of North Africa". This account tells of a Dionysius who went into Thrace, Greece, Spain, and other areas. In other words, this individual traversed most of Europe! He is described as a man who dominated the world and brought "deep peace" — that is, who conquered area after area and left them in a crushed solitude after his departure. This Dionysius could be none other than Tubalcain, the artificer of copper and iron, who developed a war-making pattern of life. Since he was originally the only one who could equip his army with these metal weapons it was easy for him to dominate other peoples of the world who did not have such death-dealing implements! And Dionysius died young — as did Tubalcain!
There are other Dionysiuses in mythology — Nimrod among them — but who they were can be discerned on the basis of the stories attributed to them. Certainly, this Dionysius described by Diodorus could be none other than the famous military leader who dominated the pre-Flood world, whose military and "cultural" expeditions have been covered earlier in this chapter. Diodorus' story of Dionysius is rejected by historians because the main individual in it is given a mythological name — but this does not mean it has no real historical basis, This Dionysius lived in a world described in the Bible, a world historians do not believe existed, the world of crime and violence before the Flood! This certainly does not mean we should now turn to myths instead of the Bible. But it does mean that many mythological traditions can now be understood when the Bible is used to interpret them. And it also means that the story of what had gone on before the Flood, which is contained in summary form in the Bible, was not completely lost to the world! The Ancients knew about these events!
To summarize: When the account in the Bible is applied to Jewish tradition, the record preserved by Josephus and other ancient historians, and the ancient Greek traditions called myths, much can be learned about the pre-Flood world which heretofore has been considered lost to human knowledge!
PART 5 — ADDED MATERIAL (See Table of Contents)
CHAPTER 5 - Added Material
The Neo-Babylonian Empire With this background for Assyria in mind, we may proceed with the story of the final rise and fall of Babylonia. The fifteenth ruler in the Babylonian king list is Nabopolassar (625-604), the father of Nebuchadnezzer the Great. It was during the reign of Nabopolassar, as the subsequent story will show, that the Assyrian Empire breathed its last! The reign of Nabopolassar begins what historians call the Neo-Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian Empire. This period from 625 to 539 encompasses the reigns of the last five rulers of ancient Shinar, all of them Babylonian, which may actually be viewed as a dynasty distinct from the previous fourteen rulers in the king list designated Babylon II. These 87 years mark the last period of flourishing of Babylonia.
After the death in 625 of Kandalanu, the ruler appointed by Assur-banipal, anarchy existed in Babylonia! Assyria tried to bring the Babylonians under control but had only temporary success. Out of the struggle Nabopolassar emerged to establish himself as king in Babylon. The years following 625 were filled with wars between Assyria and Nabopolassar, during which border regions were taken and retaken. The Assyrians, however, were engaged in a losing struggle.
A second enemy of Assyria was the Median army under the leadership of King Cyaxeres I (624-584). The Assyrian king, Sin-sarra-ish-kun (622-612), was able to hold Cyaxeres off for several years but could not drive his forces away. The Assyrian military no longer enjoyed the overwhelming superiority it had in the past!
The year 616 marked the beginning of the end for Assyria. In that year Nabopolasar marched up the Euphrates and Khabur valleys, defeated the Assyrians near Haran, and exacted tribute from them. In this situation the Assyrians concluded an alliance with Egypt but it proved useless. Then, in 614, the Medes besieged and conquered Assur which, along with Nineveh and Calah, was one of the three royal cities of Assyria. Nabopolassar came with his army to help the Medes but arrived only after the city had been taken. However, at this time Nabopolassar and Cyanxeres made a formal treaty of alliance. The doom of Assyria was sealed!
The fighting continued for the next two years. Then, in 612, both the Medes and the Chaldeans besieged Nineveh! The city fell in the month of August. Calah had collapsed in 621; Assur was taken in 614; and now Nineveh, the third and last royal city of Assyria, had been conquered. It was looted and completely destroyed never again to be rebuilt! The prophecy of Nahum describes the crashing fall of Nineveh! (Recall that the city of Nineveh was regarded as fictional until archaeology uncovered it in 1845, providing a great proof of the historical accuracy of the Bible!)
The last vestiges of Assyrian power sputtered on for a few more years. Assur-uballit II (612-608) set up a final Assyrian reign in Haran far to the west of Nineveh. But in 609 Nabopolassar was able to take Haran, forcing Assur-uballit to flee. In 608 Assur-uballit attempted to retake Haran with the aid of the Egyptians but was unsuccessful. After this event he disappeared from history! Thus, after the fall of Nineveh in 612, the fall of Haran in 609, and Assur-uballit's failure at reconquest in 608, Assyria ceased to exist!
The Assyrian Empire was divided between the Babylonians and the Medes: northern Assyria and Anatolia were taken by the Medes while the south became part of Babylonia.
The Reign of Nebuchadnezzer Nabopolassar, by successful military conquest, was thus able to elevate Babylonia to the position of top power in the Near East. In the latter years of his eventful reign he was ably assisted by his famous son, Nebuchadnezzer. During the years 607 and 606 they continued fighting the Egyptian army that had aided Assur-uballit, the battles taking place in the region of Syria. In the year 605 Nebuchadnezzer continued the campaigns against the Egyptians after Nabopolassar returned home to Babylon. In 604 (actually 605-603) the crown prince defeated the Egyptians in the famous battle of Carchemish. The remnants of the Egyptian army were pursued and annihilated near Hamath on the Crontes and, after this event, Nebuchadnezzer was eventually able to conquer all of Syria.
In August of 604 Nabopolassar died and Nebuchadnezzer returned to Babylon to officially become his successor. The reign of Nebuchadnezzer spanned 43 years from 604 to 561, and marked the peak of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The main events during this time may be listed as follows:
1. The Babylonian captivity of the Jews. The captivity of the Jews may be summarized as follows: Between 604 and 585 Nebuchadnezzer made war with the Kingdom of Judah. The Jews were not successful in any of their battles with the Babylonians. In the first years of this war, Nebuchadnezzer carried away the majority of the Jews from Judah to Babylon. The group which included the prophet Daniel was taken in 604 (Daniel 1:1-2). Jehoiachin, his family, entire staff, and all the leaders of Judah were taken in 596 (II Kings 24:10-16). At the end of the war, in 587-585, Jerusalem was besieged and taken, Zedekiah was captured and his eyes put out, and all the Jews, except those under Gedaliah, were finally carried to Babylon! Read the story in II Kings 25. And even those under Gedaliah finally fled Palestine. This was a complete captivity.
2. The 13-year siege of Tyre.
3. The conquest of Egypt.
4. The seven years of Nebuchadnezzer's insanity.
After the captivity of Judah was complete Nebuchadnezzer systematically turned his attention to that famous commercial city of the ancient world — Tyre in Phoenicia! He besieged this great city for thirteen long years from 585-573. Finally he was able to take part of the city — that part of the city located on the shore of the mainland. The population of the city, however, fled to the other part of Tyre which was situated on an island just half a mile off shore! They fortified this island part of the city and Nebuchadnezzer was never able to capture it. It was not until 332 that Alexander was able to conquer Tyre completely. Read pages 4-14 of the booklet "The Proof of the BIBLE" which explains in clear detail the prophetic fate of this famous city.
By the year 572 Nebuchadnezzer was in control of practically the entire Near East. Babylonia and Assyria were his, he had taken over Syria, Judah and Palestine had come under his power — a great empire. But Egypt still remained. This famous ancient nation was next on the conquest list.
Nebuchadnezzer's Egyptian campaign began in 570 with the great king personally present at the front. The first skirmishes met with such brilliant success, however, that the king left the campaign in the hands of his able generals while he returned home to Babylon. The conquest of Egypt took just three full years — 570-567. In the calendar year 567-566 the destruction of Egypt was complete. Pharaoh Amasis was sent into exile to the island of Cyprus, the Egyptian people were deported from their homeland.
This was followed by the famous 40 years' desolation as prophesied about the year 570 by the prophet Ezekiel, chapters 29 and 30. The 40 years covered the period 567-527. During this time God sent a terrible drought on East Africa. Rainfall ceased. No water flowed in the Nile. The land was so parched and dry that wild beasts could not survive there. Egypt was absolutely and completely desolate — a non-existent nation, for all practical purposes. The prophecies of the Bible had again been fulfilled. This event marked the eclipse of Africa. From this time forward Africa has been a backward nation on the world scene!
Nebuchadnezzer had returned home before the Egyptian campaign was over. And he did not continue on the throne to see it completed. His reign was interrupted. Nebuchadnezzer became insane!
The story is told in Daniel 4. Prophecy was again to be fulfilled. The events in verses 4 through 27 apparently took place in the year 571 after the siege of Tyre and before the attack of Egypt commenced. Daniel interpreted the astonishing and horrible dream Nebuchadnezzer had, telling him that he would be insane for seven years till he learned "that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will." (verse 25). Daniel completed his inspiring interpretation by telling the king to repent of his ways! Notice this point in verse 27.
But, of course, things were going too well for this world ruler to change his ways. In 570, as already recounted, he began his military campaign against Egypt. It was so successful that by the of the year he had returned home: "At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king ... said, 'Is not this great Babylon, that I have built ... by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?'" (verses 29-30). Obviously Nebuchadnezzer was not giving God any credit for his successes at this point!
Suddenly, at that very moment, the fulfillment of the prophecy came upon Nebuchadnezzer (verses 31-33). He lost his mind. For seven years the greatest ruler in the world became like an untamed beast. He ate grass, his hair grew long, his fingernails became like bird's claws.
Actually Nebuchadnezzer was a type of all Gentile rulers. His seven years of insanity illustrated the seven times (2520 years) of Gentile rule from his day till the return of Christ. Jesus called this period the "times of the Gentiles" (Luke 21:24). It includes the four great world ruling empires (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman) and the seven revivals of the Roman Empire. The Gentile rulers throughout history have behaved like beasts because they have constantly made war! They have not repented or acknowledged the power and dominion of God. But Christ will change this when He returns!
And Nebuchadnezzer did realize the power and greatness of God after he regained his senses. Notice verses 1-3 and 34-37 of Daniel 4. These sections show that Nebuchadnezzer was reporting his experiences to all the world after his period of insanity ended (562). He did come to recognize the rulership of God and he rendered Him praise and honor! This pictures the ultimate surrender of Gentile rulers to the rulership of the Almighty God at the end of the "times of the Gentiles."
The period of the reign of Nebuchadnezzer was 604-561. This span of time includes the seven years' insanity — 569-562. Thus for seven years someone had to rule Babylonia in his place. Specifically who this was is not recorded. Notice also that the Bible account of Nebuchadnezzer ends with the conclusion of Daniel 4. Chapter five picks up twenty-two years later in the reign of Nabonidus and Belshazzar. Notice also that his reign is recorded as ending in 561, the year after he recovered his mind. Whether or not this is the year of his death is not known. However, it does not seem likely that he should die so soon after learning the great lesson he did. Nevertheless, at this point the story of the end of Nebuchadnezzer's life remains unknown.
To summarize: The reign of Nebuchadnezzer marked the pinnacle of the greatness of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It was a period of prosperity, building, and restoration. Almost all the palaces and temples excavated by archaeologists in Babylon date from this time. In short, Nebuchadnezzer made Babylon the greatest city of the ancient world! He built the famous Ishtar Gate, with high towers on each side, decorated with figures of animals made from brightly colored, glazed tiles. Within this gate were erected tier after tier of roof-gardens filled with exotic trees and plants. These were the famous "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" — called by the Greeks one of the "Seven Wonders" of the ancient world! Bear in mind that this is the setting in which Daniel, the servant and prophet of God, lived and worked and wrote. Just as Joseph in Egypt, Daniel was placed by God at the focal point of world power in his day.
The Final Defeat of Babylonia The reign of Nebuchadnezzer marked the peak of Babylonian power. But, with the end of his rule in 561, the record of history shows that the fall of ancient Babylonia was only 22 years away! History amply illustrates the point that leading nations are often at their greatest just before they collapse!
Babylon was to have three more rulers before the end in 539. The first of these last three kings was Amel-Marduk who is better known by the Biblical form of his name, Evil-merodach. His short reign of two years is dated 561-559. Noting is known of his reign outside of the fact recorded in the Bible that he pardoned Jehoiachin and restored him to an honorable status (II Kings 25:27-30 — that last four verses of the book).
Evil-Merodach was succeeded by his brother-in-law, another little known king named Nergal-shar-usur. He reigned four years, 559-555. Archaeology has discovered a few things about Nergal-shar-usur including the fact that he conducted a military campaign in Cilicia. He is not mentioned in the Bible.
The ascent to the throne of the last Babylonian ruler illustrates the state of affairs that existed in this declining pagan realm. The lawful heir to the throne after Nergal-shar-usur was Labahi-Marduk, a minor. But he never lived to take the throne! He was assassinated in 555 and a usurper, Nabonidus, seized the throne.
Nabonidus, the final ruler in Babylonian history, reigned for 16 1/2 years from 555 to 539. However, he was not the sole ruler of the realm in its last years. In his third year (552) he made his eldest son, Belshazzar, co-regent with him. This explains why Belshazzar is presented as the last king of Babylon in Daniel 5.
After installing his son as co-regent in Babylon, Nabonidus went to Arabia where he stayed for some 13 years. (Thus he was not present at the fall of Babylon when Belshazzar was killed. Daniel 5) In Arabia he captured Tema and established a lavish headquarters there which included a palace similar to the one in Babylon. He used Tema as a base of operations for further conquests in the Arabian peninsula.
With Nabonidus occupied in Arabia and Belshazzar at home in Babylon apparently unaware of the grave dangers that threatened the realm, the stage was set for the fall of Babylonia! Cyrus the Great, king of Persia (558-529), had been making great military conquests since the start of the reign of Nabonidus. By the autumn of 539 he was ready to take Babylon.
The events relating to the capture of Babylon are recorded in the Bible in Daniel 5. The time setting is October of 539 B.C. Belshazzar and his lords — a thousand of them — were celebrating a great feast (verse 1). They blasphemously dared to use the sacred vessels of God that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzer in 585 B.C. (verses 2-4)! The pagan merry-making, however, came to an abrupt halt (verse 5). God miraculously caused an inscription to be written on the wall foretelling the fall of Babylonia to the Medes and the Persians (verses 5, 25-28). King Belshazzar was so terrified by this unnatural occurrence that his knees literally knocked together — a profound manifestation of fear! This is what the psychologists would call a traumatic experience! The bulk of the chapter goes on to explain how Daniel was called in to interpret the inscription. Verses 18-23 are significant: Daniel told Belshazzar he should have known better, that he should have learned the lessons of the experience of his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzer. Daniel told him, "You have not humbled your heart, though you KNEW all this!" (verse 22). Belshazzar had no excuse. He knew that God would hold him responsible for his actions. He did not sin in total ignorance!
Daniel 5:30 records the fate of Belshazzar in concise terms: "In that night was Belshazzar ... SLAIN!"
Other historical sources reveal how the Medo-Persian army took Babylon on that fateful night in history in October of 539 B.C. Xenephon, the Greek historian, recorded that when Cyrus the Great, king Persia who was leading the army, reached Babylon in 539 he dug channels to divert the water of the Euphrates River which flowed under the gates of the city of Babylon! Then he and the Medo-Persian army carefully slipped down into the waterless river bed, crept quietly through the gates of the city, and rushed to the palace where the drunken feast was taking place. Upon reaching the palace where Belshazzar had seen the handwriting on the wall (apparently Belshazzar did not want to call of the feast and thus disappoint the thousand lords despite this miracle), they "burst in, and , pursuing those who fled, and dealing blows amongst them, came up to the king, and found him in a standing posture with his sword drawn .... " Xenephon then wrote: "They mastered him!" Just as Daniel said, Belshazzar was slain!
One apparent problem should be explained in this connection. History records that Cyrus and his army took Babylon. Yet Daniel 5:31 states that Darius the Mede took the kingdom at the age of 72. Xenephon supplies the answer. After Babylon had succumbed to the Medo-Persian forces, Cyrus went to Media to visit his uncle, Darius (also called Cyaxeres). While there he requested that Darius occupy Babylon during the year Cyrus was with his father in Persia, his uncle Darius was "made temporary King over the realm of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 9:1). Then, a year after the battle, Cyrus the Persian led a victory march into captured Babylon. (Read pages 307-311 of "The Bible as History".)
The downfall of the Babylonian Empire in 539 marked the end of the seventy years captivity of the Jews who had been carried away under Nebuchadnezzer. Cyrus, the king of Persia, as prophesied in Isaiah 45:1-4 some 200 years before, made it possible for the Jews to return to Palestine. He issued an edict that the captive Jews could return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple of God (II Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-2).
In October of 539, then, the last dynasty of ancient Babylon came to a halt. Nabonidus, the father of Belshazzar, had rushed to the scene from Arabia with his army after Cyrus had entered Babylon — but it was too late! He was easily defeated and his reign ended. The once-great Neo-Babylonian realm was absorbed into the Persian Empire!
Final Comments Here are some vital points of information to bear in mind in conferring in relation to the over-all history of Babylonia:
1) The kingly lines in Babylonia differed from those in Egypt in that the Babylonian rulers did not claim to be part of the same blood line. The Babylonian rulers did not care whether they were officially related to one another or not. Babylonian kings gained power through conquest. Intermarriage was not regarded as a necessary step in attaining royal status. In Egypt, the pharaohs were very concerned about the fact that they were the descendants of the "gods" — that is, related by blood to the original rulers Isis, Osiris (Semiramis and Nimrod) and Horus. Thus they clung to the tradition of having to intermarry to acquire royal status. This procedure was not followed in Babylonia where a conglomeration of peoples lived.
2) In ancient times there were cities other than those from which we find dynasties recorded. Besides Kish, Erech, Ur, Awan, Isin, Larsa, Babylon and the others mentioned in these chapters, there were additional cities and towns in the area which have long since been lost. Only knowledge of those cities and dynasties necessary for understanding the overall history of the area has been preserved or uncovered.
3) Drawing an analogy with a modern situation will help us understand the situation in ancient Shinar. The wars that went on between Kish and Erech and Isin and Larsa may be compared to Monrovia warring with Arcadia or Pasadena fighting with Long Beach in the Los Angeles area! These were small city-states very close to one another and their comparatively petty struggles really did not have a world-wide impact.
4) A list of the key dynasties in Babylonia from 2254 to 539 helps clarify this portion of ancient history. The major dynasties were Erech I (2254-1828), Ur I (1828-1657), Erech II (1657-1632 — Lugal-Zaggisi), the great Dynasty of Akkad (1632-1436), the Guti Dynasty (1535-1410), Erech V (1410-1403 — Utuhegal), Ur III (1403-1286), Isin I (1301-1075), Larsa (1306-1042), Babylon I (1174-879), Isin II (879-747), and Babylon II (7470539). These twelve dynasties were the dominant ones in their particular eras in Babylonia's history.
5) Italy of the 15th century is readily comparable to ancient Babylonia! A look at a map of Italy in the late 1400's shows that the area was divided into many independent city-states just like Shinar was-Savoy, Genoa, Milan, Venice, Florence, and others! And, just as in ancient Shinar, these city-states areas warred with each other. There was no unity — no one city-state had the power to dominate the whole area. This was the same situation that had existed in southern Mesopotamia as the previous pages have shown.
6) Ancient Babylonia, then, may be compared to Italy in more recent history while Assyria may be equated with Germany! This is a key concept to bear in mind. Ancient Shinar, then, had the same impact on the world in its day as Italy has had in modern times — comparatively little! As in modern times, Assyria has had a much greater world influence. Italy has always played a more minor role. Shinar was a small area of the world that, for most of its history, was weak, divided, and confused. Outside of Sargon and the famous Akkadian Dynasty, none of the ancient city-states had nay power and control to speak of beyond the area of southern Mesopotamia before the time of Nebuchadnezzer.
7) Compared to Israel, Egypt, and Assyria, Babylonia is the least important area in the history of the ancient world. Yet historians apparently know more about and spend more time studying about Babylonia than its significance warrants. The title of a recent book illustrates this: The Greatness that was Babylon. The point is that Babylon (meaning Babylonia) had very little greatness. In the Bible God has very little to say about it except for the reign of Nebuchadnezzer. Again the scholarly world illustrates its talent for misplaced emphasis!
Why study Babylonia at all? Simply because historians do spend so much time dealing with this area and because it is important to get the story CHRONOLOGICALLY ORIENTED IN RELATION TO THE BIBLE. But, when considering ancient history as a whole, the study of areas such as Egypt and Assyria is much more meaningful and rewarding!