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ATS Bible Dictionary

The province of which Babylon was the capital; now the Babylonian or Arabian Irak, which constitutes the pashalic of Bagdad. This celebrated province included the track of country lying on the river Euphrates, bounded north by Mesopotamia and Assyria and south by the Persian Gulf. This gulf was indeed its only definite and natural boundary; for towards the north, towards the east or Persia, and towards the west or desert Arabia, its limits were quite indefinite. Bot in ancient and modern times, Important tracts on the eastern bank of the Tigris, and on the western ban of the Euphrates, and still more on both banks of their united streams, were reckoned to Babylonia, or Irak el-Arab.

The most ancient name of the country is Shimar, Genesis 10:10 Daniel 1:2. Afterwards Babel, Babylon, and Babylonia became its common appellation with which at a later period, Chaldea, or the land of the Chaldeans, was used as synonymous, after this people had got the whole into their possession.

Babylonia is an extensive plain, interrupted by no hill or mountain, consisting of a fatty, brownish soil, and subject to the annual inundations of the Tigris and Euphrates, more especially of the latter, whose banks are lower than those of the Tigris. The Euphrates commonly rises about twelve feet above its ordinary level, and continues at this height from the end of April tell June. These inundations of course compelled the earliest tillers of the soil to provide means for drawing off the superabundant water, and so distributing it over the whole surface, that those tracts which were in themselves less watered might receive the requisite irrigation. From this cause, the whole of Babylonia came to be divided up by a multitude of larger and smaller canals; in part passing entirely through from one river to the other; in part also losing themselves in the interior, and serving only the purposes of irrigation. These canals seem to be the "rivers of Babylon" spoken of in Psalm 137:1. Besides this multitude of canals, which have long since vanished without trace, Babylonia contained several large lakes, partly the work of art and partly formed by the inundations of the two rivers. Babylonia, therefore, was a land abounding in water; and Jeremiah might therefore well say of it, that it "dwelt upon many waters," Jeremiah 51:13.

The Babylonians belonged to the Shemitic branch of the descendants of Noah, and their language had an affinity with the Arabic and Hebrew, nearly resembling what is now called Chaldee. The Babylonian empire was founded by Nimrod twenty centuries before Christ, and then embraced the cities Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, Genesis 10:10. After the building of Nineveh by Ninus, 1237 B.C., that city became the seat of power and continued so until about 606 B.C., when the Assyrian empire gave way to the Chaldean, and Babylon reached its highest point in fame and power. Upon the return of the Jews from captivity, many still remained in Babylonia, and to their posterity the gospel was early conveyed. Peter is supposed by many to have written his first epistle there, 1 Peter 5:13. The Jews had thriving synagogues in Babylonia, and one of their Talmuds was there composed. See CHALDEANS.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


1. Mounds

2. Explorations

3. Names

4. Semites

5. Sumerians

6. Home of the Semites

7. Immigration

8. Language

9. Script

10. Architecture

11. Art

12. Literature

13. Libraries

14. Personal Names

15. History of Kingdoms

16. Kish

17. Lagash

18. Adab

19. Nippur

20. Erech

21. Larsa

22. Shuruppak

23. Kisurra

24. Umma

25. Accad

26. Opis

27. Basime

28. Drehem

29. Urumma

30. First Dynasty of Babylon

31. Sealand Dynasty

32. Cassite Dynasty

33. Cassite Rule

34. Isin Dynasty

35. Nebuchadrezzar I

36. Sealand Dynasty

37. Bit-Bazi Dynasty

38. Other Rulers

39. Babylonian Dynasty

40. Neo-Babylonian Rulers

41. Persian Rulers of Babylon


Babylonia is a plain which is made up of the alluvial deposits of the mountainous regions in the North, where the Tigris and Euphrates have their source. The land is bounded on the North by Assyria and Mesopotamia; on the East by Elam, separated by the mountains of Elam; on the South by the sea marshes, and the country Kaldu (Chaldaea); and on the West by the Syrian desert. Some of the cities of the lower country were seaport towns in the early period, but now are far inland. This land-making process continues even at the present time at the rate of about 70 ft. a year.

This plain, in the days when Babylonia flourished, sustained a dense population. It was covered with a network of canals, skillfully planned and regulated, which brought prosperity to the land, because of the wonderful fertility of the soil. The neglect of these canals and doubtless, also, the change of climate, have resulted in altered conditions in the country. It has become a cheerless waste. During some months of the year, when the inundations take place, large portions of the land are partially covered with swamps and marshes. At other times it looks like a desolate plain.

1. Mounds:

Throughout the land there are seen, at the present time, ruin-hills or mounds of accumulation of debris, which mark the site of ancient cities. Some of these cities were destroyed in a very early era, and were never rebuilt. Others were occupied for millenniums, and their history extends far into the Christian era. The antiquities generally found in the upper stratum of the mounds which were occupied up to so late a period, show that they were generally inhabited by the Jews, who lived there after the Babylonians had disappeared.

2. Explorations:

The excavations conducted at various sites have resulted in the discovery, besides antiquities of almost every character, of hundreds of thousands of inscriptions on clay and stone, but principally on the former material. At Tello more than 60,000 tablets were found, belonging largely to the administrative archives of the temple of the third millennium B.C. At Nippur about 50,000 inscriptions were found, many of these also belonging to temple archives. But about 20,000 tablets and fragments found in that city came from the library of the school of the priests, which had been written in the third millennium B.C. At Sippar, fully 30,000 tablets were found, many being of the same general character, also representing a library. At Delehem and Djokha, temple archives of the same period as those found at Tello have come to light in great numbers, through the illicit diggings of Arabs. Babylon, Borsippa, Kish, Erech and many other cities have yielded to the explorer and the Arab diggers inscribed documents of every period of Babylonian history, and embracing almost every kind of literature, so that the museums and libraries of America and Europe have stored up unread inscriptions numbering hundreds of thousands. Many also are in the possession of private individuals. After the work of excavating Babylonia has been completed and the inscriptions deciphered, many of the pro-Christian centuries in Babylonian history will be better known than some of those of our Christian era. The ancient history of the Babylonians will be reconstructed by the help of these original sources. Lengthy family genealogies will be known, as indeed in some instances is now the case, as well as the Babylonian contemporaries of Ezekiel, Abraham and all the other Biblical characters.

3. Names:

The Greek name of Babylonia which is in use at the present time is derived from the name of the city of Babylon, the capital and chief city of the land from the time of the First Dynasty of Babylon, about 2000 B.C. (see BABYLON). The name of the land in the very earliest period which is represented by antiquities, and even inscribed objects, is not known. But in a comparatively early age the northern part is called Uri, and the southern part, Engi or En-gira. The second part of the latter name is perhaps the same as in Su-gir, which is thought to be the origin of the Old Testament Shinar. Su-gir and Su-mer are names of the same country. And inasmuch as Mer and Gir were names of the same west Semitic deity, who played an important role in the early history of Babylonia, it is not improbable that the element Su is also to be identified with the ancient name of Mesopotamia. Su is also in Su-bartu, the name of the country to the North. This name is also written Su-Gir.

Subsequent to 2000 B.C. the ideograms read in Sumerian, Uri and Engi, were pronounced in SemBab, Accad and Sumer. The former received its name from the capital of the kingdom Accad, one of the cities mentioned in Genesis 10:10. The title, "king of Accad and Sumer" was used by rulers as late as the 1st millennium B.C. The name by which the land is known in the second millennium B.C. is Kar-Duniash, the exact derivation of which is in doubt. Kar means "garden, land" in Semitic and Sumerian; and Duniash being preceded by the determinative for deity, has been regarded as a name of a Cassite god. A more recently advanced explanation is that Duniash is equivalent to Bel-malati, which means "lord of lands." The meaning of the name, as stated, must be regarded as undetermined.

In the time of the late Assyrian empire a nation in the extreme southern part of the land, called by the Greeks Chaldea, which is derived from the name Kaldu, came into existence. In the Assyrian historical inscriptions the land is usually called Bit-Yakin. This people seems to have issued from Aramaic Under Biblical. Merodach-baladan they ruled Babylonia for a time. The Neo-Bab Dynasty, founded by Nabopolassar, is supposed to be Chaldean in origin, in consequence of which the whole land in the Greek period was called Chaldea.

4. Semites:

Two distinct races are found occupying the land when we obtain the first glimpses of its history. The northern part is occupied by the Semites, who are closely allied to the Amorites, Arameans and Arabs; and the southern part by a non-Sem people called Sumerians. Their cultures had been originally distinct, but when they first become known to us there has taken place such an amalgamation that it is only by the knowledge of other Semitic cultures that it is possible to make even a partial differentiation of what was Sem-Bab and what was Sumerian. The Semites, it would almost seem, entered the land after the Sumerians had established themselves, but this can only be re garded as a conjecture.

5. Sumerians:

Although the earliest Sumerian settlement belongs to a remote period, few traces of the pre-historic Sumerian have been found. The archaeological remains indicate that this non-Sem race is not indigenous to the land, and that when they came into the country they had already attained to a fair degree of culture. But there is no evidence, as yet, in what part of the ancient world the elements of their culture were evolved, although various attempts have been made by scholars to locate their original home.

6. Home of the Semites:

The home of the Semites has been placed in different parts of the ancient world. A number of scholars look to Arabia and others to Africa for their original habitation, although their theories generally are not based upon much archaeological evidence. Unquestionably, the previous, if not the original home of the Semitic Babylonians, is to be found in the land of the Amorites, that is in Syria. In the earliest known period of Babylonian history, which apparently belongs to the age not very far removed from the time when the Semites entered Babylonia, Amurru was an important factor in the affairs of the nations, and it was a land which the world conquerors of Babylonia, both Sumerian and Semitic, endeavored to subjugate. This points to the fact that the culture of Amurru was then already old. Egyptian inscriptions fully substantiate this. We look to the land of the Arnorites as the home of the Semitic Babylonians, because of the important part played by the chief god of that land Amurru or Uru, in the Babylonian religion and nomenclature. In fact nearly all of the original names of the Semitic Babylonian sun-deities are derived from the names and epithets of the great Sun-god of the Amorites and Arameans (see Amurru, 108). These and many other considerations point to Amurru, or the land of the Amorites, as the previous home of the Semites who migrated into Babylonia and who eventually became masters of the land.

7. Immigration:

The original settlements in Babylonia, as stated above, belong to a prehistoric time, but throughout the history of the land fresh Semitic migrations have been recognized. In the Isin and First Dynasty of Babylonia, Amorites or Canaanites seem to flood the country. In the second millennium a foreign people known as Cassites ruled Babylonia for nearly six centuries. The nomenclature of the period shows that many Hittites and Mittanaeans as well as Cassites lived in Babylonia. In the first millennium the thousands of names that appear in the contract literature indicate a veritable Babel of races: Egyptians, Elamites, Persians, Medes, Tabalites, Hittites, Cassites, Ammorites, Edomites, notably Hebrews, are among the peoples that occupied the land. The deportation of the Israelites by the Assyrian kings and of the Jews by the Babylonian kings, find confirmation besides the historical inscriptions in the names of Hebrews living in Babylonia in the corresponding periods.

8. Language:

The languages of Babylonia are Semitic and Sumerian. The latter is an agglutinative tongue like the Turkish, and belongs to that great unclassifiable group of languages, called for the sake of convenience, Turanian. It has not been shown, as yet, to be allied to any other known language. The Semitic language known as the Babylonian, with which the Assyrian is practically identical, is of the common Semitic stock. After the Semites entered the land, their language was greatly influenced by the Sumerian tongue. The Semites being originally dependent upon the Sumerian scribes, with whom the script had originated, considered in connection with the fact that the highly developed culture of the Sumerians greatly influenced that of the Semites, brought about the peculiar amalgamation known as Babylonian. The language is, however, distinctively Semitic, but it has a very large percentage of Sumerian loan-words. Not knowing the cognate tongues of the Sumerian, and having a poor understanding of the pronunciation of that language, it is impossible to ascertain, on the other hand, how much the Sumerian language was influenced by the Semites.

In the late period another Semitic tongue was used extensively in the land. It was not because of the position occupied by the Arameans in the political history of western Asia, that their language became the lingua franca of the first millennium B.C. It must have been on account of the widespread migrations of the people. In the time of Sennacherib it seems to have been used as the diplomatic language in Assyria as well as among the Hebrews, as the episode in 2 Kings 18:26 would show. Then we recall the story of Belshazzar, and the edicts of the late period referred to in the Old Testament, which were in Aramaic (Ezra 4:7, etc.). In Assyria and Babylonia, many contract tablets have been found with Aramaic reference notes written upon them, showing that this was the language of those who held the documents. The Hebrews after the exile used Aramaic. This would seem to point to Babylonia as the place where they learned the language. The Babylonian language and the cuneiform script continued to be used until the 3rd or 2nd century B.C., and perhaps even later, but it seems that the Aramaic had generally supplanted it, except as the literary and legal language. In short the tongue of the common people or the spoken language in all probability in the late period was Aramaic.

9. Script:

The cuneiform writing upon clay was used both by the Sumerians and the Semites. Whether this script had its origin in the land, or in the earlier home of the Sumerians, remains a question. It is now known that the Elamites had their own system of writing as early as that of the earliest found in Babylonia; and perhaps it will be found that other ancient peoples, who are at the present unknown to us, also used the cuneiform script. A writing similar to the Babylonian was in use at an early time in Cappadocia. The Hittites and other peoples of that region also employed it. The origin of the use of clay as a writing material, therefore, is shrouded in mystery, but as stated above, the system used by the Semites in Babylonian ylonia was developed from the Sumerian.

The script is not alphabetic, but ideographic and phonetic, in that respect similar to the Chinese. There are over 500 characters, each one of which has from one to many values. The combination of two or more characters also has many values. The compilation of the values of the different signs used in various periods by both the Sumerians and Assyrians numbers at the present about 25,000, and the number will probably reach 30,000.

10. Architecture:

The architecture of Babylonia is influenced by the fact that the building material, in this alluvial plain, had to be of brick, which was largely sun-dried, although in certain prosperous eras there is much evidence of kiln-dried bricks having been used. The baked brick used in the earliest period was the smallest ever employed, being about the size of the ordinary brick used at the present time. The size of the bricks in the era prior to the third millennium varied from this to about 6 x 10 x 3 inches at Nippur, Sargon and his son Naram-Sin used a brick, the largest found, about 20 inches square, and about 4 inches in thickness. Following the operations of these kings at Nippur is the work of Ur-Engur, who used a brick about 14 inches square and nearly 4 inches in thickness. This size had been used at Tello prior to Sargon's time, and was thereafter generally employed. It re mained the standard size of brick throughout the succeeding centuries of Babylonian history. Adobes, of which the greater portion of the buildings were constructed, were usually double the thickness of kiln-dried bricks. The pillar made of bricks, as well as the pilaster constructed of the same material, seems to have come into use at a very early age, as is shown by the excavations at Tello.

A large number of Babylonian builders had the brick makers employ brick stamps which gave their names and frequently their titles, besides the name of the temple for which the bricks were intended. These enable the excavator to determine who the builders or restorers were of the buildings uncovered. Naturally, in a building like the temple of Enlil at Nippur, inscribed bricks of many builders covering a period of over 2,000 years were found. These by the help of building inscriptions, which have been found, enable scholars to rewrite considerable of the history of certain Babylonian temples. The walls of the city were also built of clay bricks, principally adobes. The walls usually were of very great thickness.

Clay was also employed extensively in the manufacture of images, weights, drains, playthings, such as animals, baby rattles, etc., and of inscriptions of every kind. Pottery, with the exception of the blue glaze employed in the late period, was usually plain, although some traces of painted pottery have been found. Although every particle of stone found in Babylonia was carried into the country, either by man or by inundations, still in certain periods it was used freely for statues, steles, votive objects, and in all periods for door sockets, weights and seal cylinders. Building operations in stone are scarcely known in Babylonia until perhaps the time of the greatest of all ancient builders, Nebuchadrezzar II, who laid a pavement in the causeway of Babylon, Aa-ibur-sabu, with blocks of stone from a mountain quarry.


11. Art:

The sculpture of the Sumerians, although in most instances the hardest of materials was used, is one of the great achievements of their civilization. Enough examples have been found to trace the development of their art from comparatively rude reliefs of the archaic period to the finished sculpture of Gudea's time, third millennium B.C., when it reached a high degree of excellence. The work of the sculpture of this age shows spirit and originality in many respects unique. In the earliest period the Babylonians attempted the round, giving frequently the main figures in full face. The perfection of detail, in their efforts to render true to life, makes their modeling very superior in the history of article The Sumerian seems to have been able to overcome difficulties of technique which later sculptors systematically avoided.

Practically every Babylonian had his own personal seal. He used it as the signature is used at the present time or rather as the little stamp upon which is engraved the name of the individual at the present time, in the Orient, to make an impression upon the letter which was written for him by a public scribe. Thousands of these ancient seals have been found. They were cut out of all kinds of stone and metal. The style in the early period was usually cylindrical, with a hole passing lengthwise through them. In the late period the signet was commonly used. Many of these gems were exquisitely cut by lapidists of rare ability. Some of the very best work of this art belongs to the third millennium B.C. The boldness in outline, and the action displayed are often remarkable. The most delicate saws, drills and other tools must have been employed by the early lapidist. Some of his early work is scarcely surpassed in the present age.

The gold and silver smiths of the early age have left us some beautiful examples of their art and skill. A notable one is the silver vase of Entemena of Lagash, mounted on a bronze pedestal, which stands on four feet. There is a votive inscription engraved about its neck. The bowl is divided into two compartments. On the upper are engraved seven heifers, and on the lower four eagles with extended wings, in some respects related to the totem or the coat of arms of Lagash. While attention to detail is too pronounced, yet the whole is well rendered and indicates remarkable skill, no less striking than the well-known work of their Egyptian contemporaries. Bronze was also used extensively for works of art and utensils. Some remarkable specimens of this craft have been found at Tello.

In studying the magnificent remains of their art, one is thoroughly impressed with the skill displayed, and with the fact that there must have been a long period of development prior to the age to which these works belong, before such creations could have been possible. Although much of the craftsman's work is crude, there is considerable in the sculpture and engraving that is well worthy of study. And in studying these remains one is also impressed with the fact that they were produced in an alluvial plain.

12. Literature:

The literature in a narrow sense is almost entirely confined to the epics, which are of a religious character, and the psalms, hymns, incantations, omens, etc. These are the chief remains of their culture.


In a general sense almost every kind of literature is found among the hundreds of thousands of clay tablets unearthed in Babylonia. The inscribed votive objects are of all kinds and descriptions. The stone vase taken in booty was dedicated to the deity of the conqueror. The beautiful piece of lapis lazuli, agate, cornelian, etc., obtained, was inscribed and devoted in the same way. Slabs, tablets and cones of all shapes and sizes, were inscribed with the king's name and titles, giving the different cities over which he ruled and referring especially to the work that he had accomplished for his deity. From the decipherment of these votive objects much valuable data are gathered for the reconstruction of the ancient history of the land.

The same is true of what are known as building inscriptions, in which accounts of the operations of the kings in restoring and enlarging temples, shrines, walls and other city works are given. Canal digging and dredging, and such works by which the people benefited, are frequently mentioned in these inscriptions.

Epistolary literature, for example, the royal letters of Hammurabi, the diplomatic correspondence found in Egypt (see TELL EL-AMARNA) or the royal letters from the Library of Ashurbanipal (see ASHURBANIPAL), as well as the private correspondence of the people, furnishes valuable historical and philological data.

The thousands of tablets found in the school libraries of Sippar and Nippur, as well as of the library of Ashurbanipal, among which are all kinds of inscriptions used in the schools of the priests and scribes, have furnished a great deal of material for the Assyrian dictionary, and have thrown much light upon the grammar of the language. The legal literature is of the greatest importance for an understanding of the social conditions of the people. It is also valuable for comparative purposes in studying the codes of other peoples.


The commercial or legal transactions, dated in all periods, from the earliest times until the latest, also throw important light upon the social conditions of the people. Many thousands of these documents have been found, by the help of which the very life that pulsated in the streets of Babylonian cities is restored.

The administrative documents from the temple archives also have their value, in that they furnish important data as regards the maintenance of the temples and other institutions; and incidentally much light on the nationality and religion of the people, whose names appear in great numbers upon them. The records are receipts of taxes or rents from districts close by the temples, and of commercial transactions conducted with this revenue. A large portion of these archives consists of the salary payments of storehouse officials and priests. There seems to have been a host of tradesmen and functionaries in connection with the temple. Besides the priest, elder, seer, seeress, sorcerer, sorceress, singer, etc., there were the farmer, weaver, miller, carpenter, smith, butcher, baker, porter, overseer, scribe, measurer, watchman, etc. These documents give us an insight into Babylonian system of bookkeeping, and show how carefully the administrative affairs of the temple were conducted. In fact the temple was provided for and maintained along lines quite similar to many of our modern institutions.

13. Libraries:

The discovery of the Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh speaks volumes for the culture of Assyria, but that culture was largely borrowed from the Babylonians. Much that this library contained had been secured from Babylonian libraries by the scribes employed by Ashurbanipal. In every important center there doubtless existed schools and libraries in connection with the temples. At Nippur, in 1890, Dr. J. P. Peters found such a library, but unfortunately, although he termed it such, his Assyriologists did not recognize that one of the greatest discoveries of antiquity had been made. It remained for Dr. J. H. Haynes, a decade later, to discover another portion of this library, which he regarded as such, because of the large number of tablets which he uncovered. Pere Scheil, prior to Dr. Haynes' discovery, had the good fortune while at Sippar to discover a part of the school and library of that important center. Since Professor Scheil's excavations, Arabs have unearthed many inscriptions of this library, which have found their way to museums and into the hands of private individuals.

The plan of the Nippur Library, unearthed by Dr. Haynes, has been published by Mr. C. Fisher, the architect of the Nippur expedition (see Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel, 183). Professor Scheil, in publishing his results, has also given a plan of the school he discovered, and a full description of its arrangements, as well as the pedagogical methods that had been employed in that institution of learning. This has also been attempted by others, but in a less scientific manner. One of the striking features of these libraries is the use of the large reference cylinders, quadrangular, pentagonal and hexagonal in shape. There was a hole cut lengthwise through them for the purpose of mounting them like revolving stands. These libraries, doubtless, contained all the works the Babylonians possessed on law, science, literature and religion. There are lexical lists, paradigm tablets, lists of names, of places, countries, temples, rivers, officers, stones, gods, etc. Sufficient tablets have been deciphered to determine their general character. Also hundreds of exercise tablets have been found, showing the progress made by pupils in writing, in mathematics, in grammar, and in other branches of learning. Some tablets appear to have been written after dictation. Doubtless, the excavators found the waste heaps of the school, where these tablets had been thrown for the purpose of working them over again as raw material, for new exercises. The school libraries must have been large. Considering for instance that the ideographic and phonetic values of the cuneiform signs in use numbered perhaps 30,000, even the syllabaries which were required to contain these different values must have been many in number, and especially as tablets, unlike books made of paper, have only two sides to them. And when we take into consideration all the different kinds of literature which have been found, we must realize that these libraries were immense, and numbered many thousands of tablets.

14. Personal Names:

In modern times the meaning of names given children is rarely considered; in fact, in many instances the name has suffered so much through changes that it is difficult to ascertain its original meaning. Then also, at present, in order to avoid confusion the child is given two or more names. It was not so with the ancient Babylonian. Originally the giving of a name was connected with some special circumstance, and though this was not always the case throughout the history of Babylonia, the correct form of the name was always preserved.

The name may have been an expression of their religious faith. It may have told of the joy experienced at the birth of an heir. It may even betray the suffering that was involved at the birth of the child, or the life that the parents had lived. In short, the names afford us an intimate glimpse into the everyday life of the people.

The average Babylonian name is theophorous, and indicates one of the deities worshipped by the family, and often the city. For example, it is suggestive that persons with names compounded with Enlil and Ninib hailed from Nippur. Knowing the deities of the surrounding people we have also important evidence in determining the origin of peoples in Babylonia having foreign names. For example, if a name is composed of the Hittite deity Teshup, or the Amorite deity Amurru, or the Aramean god Dagan, or the Egyptian god Esi (Isis), foreign influence is naturally looked for from the countries represented. Quite frequently the names of foreign deities are compounded with Babylonian elements, often resulting from mixed marriages.

Theophorous names are composed of two, three, four and even five elements. Those having two or three elements predominate. Two-element names have a diety plus a verbal form or a subst.; or vice versa: for example, Nabu-na'id (Nabonidus), "Nebo is exalted," or Shulman-asharedu (Shaimaneser), "Shalman is foremost." Many different combinations are found in three-element names which are composed of the name of the deity, a subst., a verbal form, a pronominal suffix, or some other form of speech, in any of the three positions. Explanations of a few of the familiar Biblical. names follow: Sin-akhe-erba (Sennacherib), "Sin has increased the brothers"; Marduk-apal-iddin (Mero-dach-baladan), "Marduk has given a son"; Ashurakh-iddin (Esarhaddon), "Ashur has given a brother"; Ashur-bani-apal, "Ashur is creating a son"; Nabu-kudurri-usur (Nebuchadrezzar), "O Nebo, protect the boundary"; Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach), "Man of Marrink"; Bel-shar-usur (Belshazzar), "O Bel, protect the king." Some Babylonian names mentioned in the Bible are really of foreign origin, for example, Amraphel and Sargon. Amraphel originally is west Semitic and is written Hammurabi (pronounced Chammu-rabi, the first letter being the Semitic cheth). Sargon was perhaps originally Aramean, and is composed of the elements shar and the god Gan. When written in cuneiform it was written Shargani, and later Sharrukin, being translated "the true king." Many names in use were not theophorous; for example, such personal names as Ululd, "the month Ulul"; names of animals, as Kalba, "dog," gentilic names, as Akkadai, "the Akkadian," names of crafts, as Pacharu, "potter," etc.

The literature abounds in hypochoristica. One element of a name was used for the sake of shortness, to which usually a hypochoristica suffix was added, like Marduka (Mordecai). That is, the ending a or ai was added to one of the elements of a longer name.

15. History of Kingdoms:

The written history of Babylonia at the present begins from about 4200 B.C. But instead of finding things crude and aboriginal in this, the earliest period, the remains discovered show that the people had attained to a high level of culture. Back of that which is known there must lie a long period of development. This is attested in many ways; for instance, the earliest writing found is so far removed from the original hieroglyphs that it is only possible to ascertain what the original pictures were by knowing the values which the signs possessed. The same conclusion is ascertained by a study of the art and literature. Naturally, as mentioned above, it is not impossible that this development took place in a previous home of the inhabitants.

The history of early Babylonia is at present a conflict of the kings and patesis (priest-kings) of the different city-kingdoms, for supremacy over each other, as well as over the surrounding peoples. The principal states that figure in the early history are: Kish, Lagash, Nippur, Akkad, Umma, Erech, Ur and Opis. At the present time more is known of Lagash, because the excavations conducted at that site were more extensive than at others. This makes much of our knowledge of the history of the land center about that city. And yet it should be stated that the hegemony of Lagash lasted for a long period, and the kingdom will ultimately occupy a prominent position when the final history of the land is written.

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1. First Period

2. Second Period

3. Third Period




1. Enlil, Ellil

2. Anu

3. Ea

4. Sin

5. Shamash

6. Ishtar

7. Marduk (Old Testament Merodach)

8. Nabu (Old Testament Nebo)

9. Nergal, the city god of Kutu (Old Testament Guthah)

10. Ninib

11. Ramman

12. Tammuz

13. Asshur



1. Maqlu

2. Shurpu






I. Definition.

The religion of Babylonia and Assyria is that system of belief in higher things with which the peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates valley strove to put themselves into relations, in order to live their lives. The discoveries of the past century have supplied us with a mass of information concerning this faith from which we have been able to secure a greater knowledge of it than of any other ancient oriental religion, except that of Israel. Yet the information which is thus come into our hands is embarrassing because of its very richness, and it will doubtless be a long time before it is possible to speak with certainty concerning many of the problems which now confront us. Progress in the interpretation of the literature is however so rapid that we may now give a much more intelligible account of this religion than could have been secured even so recently as five years ago.

For purposes of convenience, the religion of Babylonia and Assyria may be grouped into three great periods.

1. First Period:

The first of these periods extends from the earliest times, about 3500 B.C., down to the union of the Babylonian states under Hammurabi, about 2000 B.C.

2. Second Period:

The second period extends to the rise of the Chaldean empire under Nabopolassar, 625 B.C., and

3. Third Period:

The third period embraces the brief history of this Chaldean or neo-Babylonian empire under Cyrus, 538 B.C.

The Assyrian religion belongs to the second period, though it extends even into the third period, for Nineveh did not fall until 607 B.C.

II. The Sources.

The primary sources of our knowledge of this religion are to be found in the distinctively religious texts, such as hymns, prayers, priestly rituals and liturgies, and in the vast mass of magical and incantation literature. The major part of this religious literature which has come down to us dates from the reign of Ashurbanipal (668-625 B.C.) though much of it is quite clearly either copied from or based upon much older material. If, however, we relied for our picture of the Babylonian and Assyrian religion exclusively upon these religious texts, we should secure a distorted and in some places an indefinite view. We must add to these in order to perfect the picture practically the whole of the literature of these two peoples.

The inscriptions upon which the kings handed down to posterity an account of their great deeds contain lists of gods whom they invoked, and these must be taken into consideration. The laws also have in large measure a religious basis, and the business inscriptions frequently invoke deities at the end. The records of the astronomers, the state dispatches of kings, the reports of general officers from the field, the handbooks of medicine, all these and many other divisions of a vast literature contribute each its share of religious material. Furthermore, as the religion was not only the faith of the king, but also the faith of the state itself, the progress of the commonwealth to greater power oftentimes carried some local god into a new relationship to other gods, or the decadence of the commonwealth deprived a god of some of his powers or attributes, so that even the distinctively political inscriptions have importance in helping us to reconstruct the ancient literature.

III. The History.

The origin of the Babylonian religion is hid from our eyes in those ancient days of which we know little and can never hope to know much. In the earliest documents which have come down to us written in the Sumerian language, there are found Semitic words or constructions or both. It seems now to be definitely determined that a Sumerian people whose origin is unknown inhabited Babylonia before the coming of the Semites, whose original home was in Arabia. Of the Sumerian faith before a union was formed with the Semites, we know very little indeed. But we may perhaps safely say that among that ancient people, beneath the belief in gods there lay deep in their consciousness the belief in animism. They thought that every object, animate or inanimate, had a zi or spirit. The word seems originally to have meant life. Life manifests itself to us as motion; everything which moves has life. The power of motion separates the animate from the inanimate. All that moves possesses life, the motionless is lifeless or dead.

Besides this belief in animism, the early Sumerians seem to have believed in ghosts that were related to the world of the dead as the zi was related to the world of the living. The lil or ghost was a night demon of baleful influence upon men, and only to be cast out by many incantations. The lil was attended by a serving-maid (ardat lili, "maid of night") which in the later Semitic development was transformed into the feminine lilitu. It is most curious and interesting that this ghost demon of the Sumerians lived on through all the history of the Babylonian religion, and is mentioned even in one of the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 34:14; Hebrew Lillith, translated "night monster"). The origin of the Semitic religion brought by the ancient Semitic people and united with this Sumerian faith is also lost in the past.

It seems to be quite clear that the gods and the religious ideas which these Semites brought with them from the desert had very little if any importance for the religion which they afterward professed in Babylonia. Some of the names of their gods and images of these they very probably brought with them, but the important thing, it must always be remembered, about the gods is not the names but the attributes which were ascribed to them, and these must have been completely changed during the long history which follows their first contact with the Sumerians. From the Sumerians there flowed a great stream of religious ideas, subject indeed to modifications from time to time down the succeeding centuries. In our study of the pantheon we shall see from time to time how the gods changed their places and how the ideas concerning them were modified by political and other movements. In the very earliest times, besides these ideas of spirits and ghosts, we find also numbers of local gods. Every center of human habitati on had its special patron deity and this deity is always associated with some great natural phenomenon. It was natural that the sun and moon should be made prominent among these gods, but other natural objects and forces were personified and deified, streams, stones and many others.

Our chief source of information concerning the gods of the first period of religious development before the days of Hammurabi is found in the historical inscriptions of the early kings and rulers. Many of these describe offerings of temples and treasures made to the gods, and all of them are religious in tone and filled with ascriptions of praise to the gods. From these early texts Professor Jastrow has extricated the names of the following deities, gods and goddesses. I reproduce his list as the best yet made, but keep in mind that some of the readings are doubtful and some were certainly otherwise read by the Babylonians or Sumerians, though we do not now know how they ought to be read. The progress of Assyrian research is continually providing corrected readings for words hitherto known to us only in ideograms. It is quite to be expected that many of these strange, not to say grotesque, names will some day prove to be quite simple, and easy to utter: En-lil (Ellil, Bel) Belit, Nin-khar-sag, Nin-gir-su, wh o also appears as Dun-gur, Bau, Ga-tum-dug, Nin-dindug, Ea, Nin-a-gal, Gal-dim-zu-ab, Nin-ki, Damgal-nun-na, Nergal, Shamash, A or Malkatu, the wife of Shamash, Nannar, or Sin, Nin-Urum, Innanna, Nana, Anunit, Nina, Ishtar, Anu, Nindar-a, Gal-alim, Nin-shakh, Dun-shagga, Lugalbanda, with a consort Nin-sun, Dumu-zi-zu-ab, Dumu-zi, Lugal-Erim, Nin-e-gal and Ningal, Nin-gish-zi-da, Dun-pa-uddu, Nin-mar, Pa-sag, Nidaba, Ku(?)-anna, Shid, Nin-agid-kha-du, Ninshul-li, En-gubarra, Im-mi-khu(?), Ur-du-zi, Kadi, Nu-ku-sir-da, Ma-ma, Za-ma-ma, Za-za-ru, Impa-ud-du, Ur-e-nun-ta-ud-du-a, Khi-gir-nunna, Khi-shagga, Gur-mu, Zar-mu, Dagan, Damu, Lama, Nesu, Nun-gal, An-makh, Nin-si-na, Nin-asu. In this list great gods and goddesses and all kinds of minor deities are gathered together, and the list looks and sounds hopeless. But these are local deities, and some of them are mere duplications. Nearly every place in early times would have a sun-god or a moon-god or both, and in the political development of the country the moon-god of the conquering city displaced or absorbed the moon-god of the conquered. When we have eliminated these gods, who have practically disappeared, there remains a comparatively small number of gods who outrank all the others.

In the room of some of these gods that disappeared, others, especially in Assyria, found places. There was, however, a strong tendency to diminish the number of the gods. They are in early days mentioned by the score, but as time goes on many of these vanish away and only the few remain. As Jastrow has pointed out, Shalmaneser II (859-825 B.C.) had only eleven gods in his pantheon: Ashur, Anu, Bel, Ea, Sin, Shamash, Ninib, Nergal, Nusku, Belit and Ishtar. Sennacherib (704-681 B.C.) usually mentions only eight; namely, Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Bel (that is, Marduk), Nabu, Nergal, Ishtar of Nineveh and Ishtar of Arbela. But we must not lay much emphasis upon the smallness of this number, for in his building inscriptions at the end he invokes twenty-five deities, and even though some of these are duplicates of other gods, as Jastrow correctly explains, nevertheless the entire list is considerably increased over the eight above mentioned. In the late Babylonian period the worship seems chiefly devoted to Marduk, Nabu, Sin, Shamash and Ishtar. Often there seem little faint indications of a further step forward. Some of the hymns addressed to Shamash seem almost upon the verge of exalting him in such a way as to exclude the other deities, but the step is never taken. The Babylonians, with all their wonderful gifts, were never able to conceive of one god, of one god alone, of one god whose very existence makes logically impossible the existence of any other deity. Monotheism transcends the spiritual grasp of the Babylonian mind.

Amid all this company of gods, amid all these speculations and combinations, we must keep our minds clear, and fasten our eyes upon the one significant fact that stands out above all others. It is that the Babylonians were not able to rise above polytheism; that beyond them, far beyond them, lay that great series of thoughts about God that ascribe to him aloneness, to which we may add the great spiritual ideas which today may roughly be grouped under ethical monotheism. Here and there great thinkers in Babylonia grasped after higher ideas, and were able only to attain to a sort of pantheism of a speculative kind. A personal god, righteous and holy, who loved righteousness. and hated sin, this was not given to them to conceive.

The character of the gods changed indeed as the people who revered them changed. The Babylonians who built vast temples and composed many inscriptions emphasizing the works of peace rather than of war, naturally conceived their deities in a manner different from the Assyrians whose powers were chiefly devoted to conquests in war, but neither the Babylonians nor the Assyrians arose to any such heights as distinguish the Hebrew book of Psalms. As the influence of the Babylonians and Assyrians waned, their go ds declined in power, and none of them survived the onrush of Greek civilization in the period of Alexander.

IV. The Pantheon.

The chief gods of the Babylonian and Assyrian pantheon may now be characterized in turn.

1. Enlil, Ellil:

In the earliest times known to us the greatest of the gods is the god of Nippur whose name in the Sumerian texts is Enlil or Ellil. In the Semitic pantheon of later times he was identified with the god Bel, and it is as Belhe has been chiefly known. During the whole of the first epoch of Babylonian history up to the period of Hammurabi, he is the Lord of the World and the King of the Land. He was originally the hero of the Flood story, but in the form in which it has come down to us Marduk of Babylon has deprived him of these honors. In Nippur was his chief temple, called E-kur or "mountain house." It was built and rebuilt by the kings of Babylonia again and again from the days of Sargon I (3800 B.C.) onward, and no less than twenty kings are known to us who pride themselves on their work of rebuilding this one temple. He is saluted as "the Great Lord, the command of whose mouth cannot be altered and whose grace is steadfast." He would seem, judging from the name of his temple and from some of his attributes, to have been originally a god of the mountains where he must have had his original dwelling-place.

2. Anu:

The name of the god Anu was interpreted as meaning heaven, corresponding to the Sumerian word ana, "heaven," and he came thus to be regarded as the god of heaven as over against Enlil who was the god of earth, and Ea who was the god of the waters. Anu appears first among the great gods in an inscription of Lugalsaggi, and in somewhat later times he made his way to the top of the earliest triad which consists of Ann, Enlil and Ea. His chief seat of worship was Uruk, but in the Assyrian period he was associated with the god Adad in a temple in the city of Asshur. In the myths and epics he fills an important role as the disposer of all events, but he cannot be thought of as quite equal in rank with Enlil in spite of his position in the heavens. Antu or Anatu is mentioned as the wife of Ann, but hers is a colorless figure, and she may probably be regarded as little else than a grammatical invention owing to the desire of the Semites to associate the feminine with the masculine in their languages.

3. Ea:

The reading of the name of the god Ea still remains uncertain. It may perhaps have been Ae, as the Greek Aos would seem to indicate. His chief city of worship was Eridu, which in the earliest period was situated on the Persian Gulf, near the mouths of the Euphrates and the Tigris. His temple was there called E-absu, which means "house of the deeps," interpreted also as "house of wisdom." He must have been a god of great importance in early times, but was left behind by the growing influence of Ellil and in a later period retained honor chiefly because he was assumed to be the. father of the god Marduk, and so was reverenced by the people of the city of Babylon. As the lord of wisdom he filled a great role in exorcisms down to the very last, and was believed to be the god who was most ready to respond to human need in direful circumstances. Ea's wife is called Damkina.

4. Sin:

Sin was the city god of Urn (Ur of the Chaldeans in the Old Testament). He was originally a local god who came early to a lofty position in the canon because he seems always to have been identified with the moon, and in Babylon the moon was always of more importance than the sun because of its use in the calendar. His temple was called E-kishshirgal, i.e. "house of light." His worship was widespread, for at a very early date he had a shrine at Harran in Mesopotamia. His wife is called Ningal, the Great Lady, the Queen, and his name probably appears in Mt. Sinai. He is addressed in hymns of great beauty and was regarded as a most kindly god.

5. Shamash:

The Sun-god, Shamash, ranks next after Sin in the second or later triad, and there can be no doubt that he was from the beginning associated with the sun in the heavens. His seats of worship were Larsa in southern Babylonia and Sippar in northern Babylonia in both of which his temple was called E-bab-bar, "shining house." He also is honored in magnificent hymns in which he is saluted as the enemy and the avenger of evil, but as the benignant furtherer of all good, especially of that which concerns the races of men. All legislation is ascribed to him as the supreme judge in heaven. To him the Babylonians also ascribe similar powers in war to those which the Egyptians accorded to Re. From some of the texts one might have supposed that he would have come to the top of the triad, but this appears not to have been the case, and his influence extended rather in the direction of influencing minor local deities who were judged to be characterized by attributes similar to those ascribed to him in the greater hymns.

6. Ishtar:

The origin and the meaning of the name of the goddess Ishtar are still disputed, but of her rank there can be no doubt. In the very earliest inscriptions known to us she does not seem to have been associated with the planet Venus as she is in later times. She seems rather to have been a goddess of fruitfulness and of love, and in her temple at Uruk temple-prostitution was a feature. In the mythological literature she occupies a high place as the goddess of war and of the chase. Because of this later identification she became the chief goddess of the warlike Assyrians. Little by little she absorbed all the other goddesses and her name became the general word for goddess. Her chief seats of worhip were Uruk in southern Babylonia, where she was worshipped in earliest times under the name of Nana, and Akkad in northern Babylonia, where she was called Anunitu, and Nineveh and Arbela in Assyria. Some of the hymns addressed to her are among the noblest products of Babylonian and Assyrian religion and reach a considerable ethical position. This development of a sexual goddess into a goddess who severely judged the sins of men is one of the strangest phenomena in the history of this religion.

7. Marduk:

Marduk (in the Old Testament Merodach) is the city-god of Babylon where his temple was called E-sagila ("lofty house") and its tower E-teme nanki ("house of the foundation of heaven and earth"). His wife is Sarpanitu, and, as we have already seen, his father was Ea, and in later days Nabu was considered his son. The city of Babylon in the earliest period was insignificant in importance compared with Nippur and Eridu, and this city-god could not therefore lay claim to a position comparable with the gods of these cities, but after Hammurabi had made Babylon the chief city of all Babylonia its god rapidly increased in importance until he absorbed the attributes of the earlier gods and displaced them in the great myths. The speculative philosophers of the neo-Babylonian period went so far as to identify all the earlier gods with him, elevating his worship into a sort of henotheism. His proper name in the later periods was gradually displaced by the appellativc Belu "lord," so that finally he was commonly spoken of as Bel, and his consort was called Belit. He shares with Ishtar and Shamash the honor of having some of the finest hymns, which have come down to us, sung to his name.

8. Nabu:

Nabu (in the Old Testament Nebo) was the city-god of Bor-sippa. His name is clearly Semitic, and means "speaker" or "announcer." In earlier times he seems to have been a more important god than Marduk and was worshipped as the god of vegetation. His temple in Borsippa bore the name E-zida ("perpetual house") with the tower E-uriminanki ("house of the seven rulers of heaven and earth"). In later times he was identified with the planet Mercury.

9. Nergal:

Nergal, the city-god of Kutu (in the Old Testament Cuthah), was the god of the underworld and his wife Eresh-kigal was the sovereign lady of the under-world. He was also the god of plague and of fever, and in later days was associated with the planet Mars, though scholars who are attached to the astral theory (see below) think that he was identified at an earlier date with Saturn. For this view no certain proof has yet been produced.

10. Ninib:

Unfortunately the correct pronunciation of the name of the god Ninib has not yet been secured. He seems originally to have been a god of vegetation, but in the later philosophical period was associated with the planet Saturn, called Kaitaann (Kewan, Chiun, Amos 5:26 the King James Version, the English Revised Version). As a god of vegetation he becomes also a god of healing and his wife Gula was the chief patroness of physicians. He comes also to be regarded as a mighty hero in war, and, in this capacity generally, he fills a great role in the Assyrian religion.

11. Ramman:

Ramman is the god of storms and thunder among the Babylonians and in the Assyrian pantheon he is usually called Adad. This form of the name is doubtless connected with the Aramaic god Hadad. In the Sumerian period his name seems to have been Ishkur. His wife is called Shala.

12. Tammuz:

The name Tammuz is derived from the Sumerian Dumuzi-zuab ("real child of the water depths"). He is a god of vegetation which is revived by the rains of the spring. Tammuz never became one of the great gods of the pantheon, but his popularity far exceeded that of the many gods who were regarded as greater than he. His worship is associated with that of Ishtar whose paramour he was, and the beautiful story of the descent of Ishtar to Hades was written to describe Ishtar's pursuit of him to the depths of the under-world seeking to bring him up again. His disappearance in the under-world is associated with the disappearance of vegetation under the midsummer heat which revives again when the rain comes and the god appears once more on the earth. The cult of Tammuz survived the decay of Babylonian and Assyrian civilization and made its way into the western world. It was similar in some respects to that of Osiris in Egypt, but was not so beautiful or so humane.

13. Asshur:

The supreme god of Assyria, Asshur, was originally the local god of the city which bears the same name. During the whole of Assyrian history his chief role is as the god of war, but the speculative philosophers of Assyria absorbed into him many of the characteristics of Ellil and Marduk, going even so far as to ascribe to him the chief place in the conflict with the sea monster Tiamat in the creation epoch.

V. Hymns and Prayers.

The religious literature of the Babylonians and Assyrians culminated in a great series of hymns to the gods. These have come down to us from almost all periods of the religious history of the people. Some of them go back to the days of the old city-kingdoms and others were composed during the reign of Nabonidus when the fall of Babylon at the hands of Cyrus was imminent. The greatest number of those that have come down to us are dedicated to Shamash, the Sun-god, but many of the finest, as we have already seen, were composed in honor of Sin, the Moon-god. None of these reached monotheism. All are polytheistic, with perhaps tendencies in the direction of pantheism or henotheism. This incapacity to reach monotheism may have been partially due to the influence of the local city whose tendency was always to hold tightly to the honor of the local god. Babylonia might struggle never so hard to lift Marduk to high and still higher position, but in spite of all its efforts he remains to the very end of the days only one god among many. And even the greatest of the Babylonian kings, Nebuchadrezzar and Nabonidus, continued to pay honor to Shamash in Sippar, whose temple they continually rebuilt and adorned with ever greater magnificence. Better than any description of the hymns is a specimen adequately to show their quality. Here are some lines taken from an ancient Sumerian hymn to the Moon-god which had been copied and preserved with an Assyrian translation in the library of Ashurbanipal: + O Lord, chief of the gods, who alone art exalted on earth and in heaven, Father Nannar, Lord, Anshar, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord, great Ann, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord, Sin, chief of the gods, Father Nanbar, Lord of Ur, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord of E-gish-shir-gal, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, Lord of the veil, brilliant one, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, whose rule is perfect, chief of the gods, Father Nannar, who does march in great majesty, chief of the gods, O strong, young bull, with strong horns, perfect in muscles, with beard of lapis lazuli color, full of glory and perfection, Self-created, full of developed fruit, beautiful to look upon, in whose being one cannot sufficiently sate himself; Mother womb, begetter of all things, who has taken up his exalted habitation among living creatures; O merciful, gracious father, in whose hand rests the life of the whole world, O Lord, thy divinity is full of awe, like the far-off heaven and the broad ocean. O creator of the land, founder of sanctuaries, proclaimer of their names, O father, begetter of gods and men, who dost build dwellings and establish offerings, Who dost call to lordship, dost bestow the scepter, determinest destinies for far-off days. Much of this is full of fine religious feeling, and the exaltation of Sin sounds as though the poet could scarcely acknowledge any other god, but the proof that other gods were invoked in the same terms and by the same kings is plentiful.

Some of these hymns are connected with magical and incantation literature, for they serve to introduce passages which are intended to drive away evil demons. A very few of them on the other hand rise to very lofty conceptions in which the god is praised as a judge of righteousness. A few lines from the greatest of all the hymns addressed to Shamash, the Sun-god, will make this plain:

COLUMN II + Who plans evil-his horn thou dost destroy, 40 Whoever in fixing boundaries annuls rights. The unjust judge thou restrainest with force. Whoever accepts a bribe, who does not judge justly-on him thou imposest sin. But he who does not accept a bribe, who has a care for the oppressed, To him Shamash is gracious, his life he prolongs. 45 The judge who renders a just decision Shall end in a palace, the place of princes shall be his dwelling. - COLUMN III + The seed of those who act unjustly shall not flourish. What their mouth declares in thy presence Thou shalt burn it up, what they purpose wilt thou annul. 15 Thou knowest their transgressions: the declaration of the wicked thou dost cast aside. Everyone, wherever he may be, is in thy care. Thou directest their judgments, the imprisoned dost thou liberate. Thou hearest, O Shamash, petition, prayer, and appeal. Humility, prostration, petitioning, and reverence. 20 With loud voice the unfortunate one cries to thee. The weak, the exhausted, the oppressed, the lowly, Mother, wife, maid appeal to thee. He who is removed from his family, he that dwelleth far from his city. - There is in this hymn no suggestion of magic or sorcery. We cannot but feel how close this poet came to an appreciation of the Sun-god as a judge of men on an ethical basis. How near he was to passing through the vale into a larger religious life!

The prayers are on the whole upon a lower plane, though some of them, notably those of Nebuchadrezzar, reach lofty conceptions. The following may serve as a sufficient example:

O eternal ruler, lord of all being, grant that the name of the king that thou lovest, whose. name thou hast proclaimed. may flourish as seems pleasing to thee. Lead him in the right way. I am the prince that obeys thee, the creature of thy hand. Thou hast created me, and hast entrusted to me dominion over mankind. According to thy mercy, O Lord, which thou bestowest upon all, may thy supreme rule be merciful! The worship of thy divinity implant in my heart! Grant me what seems good to thee, for thou art he that hast fashioned my life.

VI. Magic:

Next in importance to the gods in the Babylonian religion are the demons who had the power to afflict men with manifold diseases of body or mind. A large part of the religion seems to have been given up to an agonized struggle against these demons, and the gods were everywhere approached by prayer to assist men against these demons. An immense mass of incantations, supposed to have the power of driving the demons out, has come down to us. The use of these incantations lay chiefly in the hands of the priests who attached great importance to specific words or sets of words. The test of time was supposed to have shown that certain words were efficacious in certain instances. If in any case the result was not secured, it could only be ascribed to the use of the wrong formula; hence there grew up a great desire to preserve exactly the words which in some cases had brought healing. Later these incantations were gathered into groups or rituals classified according to purpose or use. Of the rituals which have come down to us, the following are the most important:

1. Maqlu:

Maqlu, i.e. "burning," so called because there are in it many symbolic burnings of images or witches. This series is used in the delivering of sufferers from witches or sorcerers.

2. Shurpu:

Shurpu is another word for burning, and this series also deals much in symbolic burnings and for the same purposes as the former. In these incantations we make the acquaintance of a large number of strange demons such as the rabisu, a demon that springs unawares on its victims; the labartu, which attacks women and children; and the lilu and the lilitu, to which reference has been made before, and the utuku, a strong demon.

These incantations are for the most part a wretched jargon without meaning, and a sad commentary on the low position occupied by the religion which has attained such noble heights as that represented in the hymns and prayers. It is strange that the higher forms of religion were not able to drive out the lower, but these incantations continued to be carefully copied and used down to the very end of the Babylonian commonwealth.

VII. The Last Things.

In Babylonia, the great question of all the ages-"If a man die shall he live again?"-was asked and an attempt made to answer it. The answer was usually sad and depressing. After death the souls of men were supposed to continue in existence. It can hardly be called life. The place to which they have gone is called the "land of no return." There they lived in dark rooms amid the dust and the bats covered with a garment of feathers, and under the dominion of Nergal and Ereshkigal. When the soul arrived among the dead he had to pass judgment before the judges of the dead, the Annunaki, but little has been preserved for us concerning the manner of this judgment. There seems to have been at times an idea that it might be possible for the dead to return again to life, for in this underworld there was the water of life, which was used when the god Tammuz returned again to earth. The Babylonians seem not to have attached so much importance to this after-existence as did the Egyptians, but they did practice burial and not cremation, and placed often with the dead articles which might be used in his future existence. In earlier times the dead were buried in their own houses, and among the rich this custom seems to have prevailed until the very latest times. For others the custom of burying in an acropolis was adopted, and near the city of Kutha was an acropolis which was especially famous. In the future world there seem to have been distinctions made among the dead.

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Strong's Hebrew
896. Babelay -- inhab. of Bab.
... of Bab. NASB Word Usage Babylonians (1). Babylonia. (Aramaic) patrial from Babel;
a Babylonian -- Babylonia. see HEBREW Babel. 895, 896. Babelay. 897 . ...
/hebrew/896.htm - 6k

163. Ahava -- a place and a stream in Babylon
... NASB Word Usage Ahava (3). Ahava. Probably of foreign origin; Ahava, a river of
Babylonia -- Ahava. 162, 163. Ahava. 164 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/163.htm - 5k

8521. Tel Charsha -- "mound of a craftsman," a city in Babylon
... Tel-haresha, Tel-harsa. From tel and the feminine of Charashiym; mound of workmanship;
Tel-Charsha, a place in Babylonia -- Tel-haresha, Tel-harsa. ...
/hebrew/8521.htm - 6k

8398. tebel -- world
... a partic. Land, as Babylonia, Palestine -- habitable part, world. see HEBREW
yabal. 8397, 8398. tebel. 8399 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/8398.htm - 6k

894. Babel -- an E. Mediterranean empire and its capital city
... Babel, Babylon. From balal; confusion; Babel (ie Babylon), including Babylonia and
the Babylonian empire -- Babel, Babylon. see HEBREW balal. 893, 894. ...
/hebrew/894.htm - 6k

8152. Shinar -- another name for Bab.
... NASB Word Usage Shinar (8). Shinar. Probably of foreign derivation; Shinar, a plain
in Babylonia -- Shinar. 8151, 8152. Shinar. 8153 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/8152.htm - 5k

1757. Dura -- a place near Bab.
... NASB Word Usage Dura (1). Dura. (Aramaic) probably from duwr; circle or dwelling;
Dura, a place in Babylonia -- Dura. see HEBREW duwr. 1756, 1757. Dura. 1758 ...
/hebrew/1757.htm - 6k

8528. Tel Melach -- "mound of salt," a place in Babylon
... NASB Word Usage Tel-melah (2). Tel-melah. From tel and melach; mound of salt;
Tel-Melach, a place in Babylonia -- Tel-melah. see HEBREW tel. see HEBREW melach. ...
/hebrew/8528.htm - 6k


History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 8
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 8. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 8 G. Maspero. ...
/.../maspero/history of egypt chaldaea syria babylonia and assyria v 8/

History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 2
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 2. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 2 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 1
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 1. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 1 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 3
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 3. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 3 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 7 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 6
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 6. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 6 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 9
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 9. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 9 G. Maspero. ...
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History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 5
History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 5. <. History
Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 5 G. Maspero. ...
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Babylonia and Assyria
... CHAPTER VI BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA. While the influence of Egypt upon Israel
may be described as negative, that of Babylonia was positive. ...
/.../early israel and the surrounding nations/chapter vi babylonia and assyria.htm

Babylonia (17 Occurrences)
... Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia BABYLONIA. ... a year. This plain, in the days
when Babylonia flourished, sustained a dense population. ...
/b/babylonia.htm - 75k

... The name and cult of the goddess were derived from Babylonia, where Ishtar represented
the evening and morning stars and was accordingly androgynous in origin. ...
/a/astoreth.htm - 10k

Astarte (2 Occurrences)
... The name and cult of the goddess were derived from Babylonia, where Ishtar represented
the evening and morning stars and was accordingly androgynous in origin. ...
/a/astarte.htm - 11k

Ashtoreth (3 Occurrences)
... The name and cult of the goddess were derived from Babylonia, where Ishtar represented
the evening and morning stars and was accordingly androgynous in origin. ...
/a/ashtoreth.htm - 14k

Chedorlaomer (5 Occurrences)
... the age of Abraham, Canaan and even the Sinaitic peninsula had been conquered by
Babylonian kings, and in the time of Abraham himself Babylonia was ruled by a ...
/c/chedorlaomer.htm - 16k

Chaldeans (82 Occurrences)
... 1. Geographical Position: Seats of the Chaldeans: In its widest acceptation, Chaldea
is the name of the whole of Babylonia, owing to the fact that the ...
/c/chaldeans.htm - 48k

Esarhaddon (3 Occurrences)
... BC 668, while on the march to suppress an Egyptian revolt, and was succeeded by
his son Assur-bani-pal, whose younger brother was made viceroy of Babylonia. ...
/e/esarhaddon.htm - 13k

... Libraries had existed in the cities of Babylonia from a remote date, and the Assyrian
kings, whose civilization was derived from Babylonia, imitated the ...
/l/library.htm - 16k

Chaldea (8 Occurrences)
... The southern portion of Babylonia, Lower Mesopotamia, lying chiefly on the right
bank of the Euphrates, but commonly used of the whole of the Mesopotamian plain ...
/c/chaldea.htm - 25k

Nimrod (4 Occurrences)
... "The land of Shinar" is the old name for Southern Babylonia, afterward called ... II,
/n/nimrod.htm - 11k

Bible Concordance
Babylonia (17 Occurrences)

Joshua 7:21 When I saw among the spoil a beautiful Babylonian robe, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. Behold, they are hidden in the ground in the middle of my tent, with the silver under it."
(Root in WEB NIV)

Ezra 1:11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when they of the captivity were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.
(See RSV)

Ezra 2:1 Now these are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and that returned unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;
(See RSV)

Ezra 5:12 But because that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.
(See RSV)

Ezra 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the archives, where the treasures were laid up, in Babylon.
(See RSV)

Ezra 7:6 this Ezra went up from Babylon; and he was a ready scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given; and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him.
(See RSV)

Ezra 7:9 For upon the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him.
(See RSV)

Ezra 7:16 and all the silver and gold that thou shalt find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill-offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem;
(See RSV)

Ezra 8:1 Now these are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of them that went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king.
(See RSV)

Isaiah 11:11 And in that day the hand of the Lord will be stretched out the second time to get back the rest of his people, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the sea-lands.
(See NIV)

Jeremiah 51:24 And I have recompensed to Babylon, And to all inhabitants of Chaldea, All the evil that they have done in Zion, Before your eyes -- an affirmation of Jehovah.
(See NIV)

Jeremiah 51:35 My wrong, and 'that of' my flesh 'is' on Babylon, Say doth the inhabitant of Zion, And my blood 'is' on the inhabitants of Chaldea, Say doth Jerusalem.
(See NIV)

Ezekiel 11:24 The Spirit lifted me up, and brought me in the vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea, to them of the captivity. So the vision that I had seen went up from me.
(See NIV)

Ezekiel 12:13 And I have spread My net for him, and he hath been caught in My snare, and I have brought him in to Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, and it he doth not see -- and there doth he die.
(See NIV)

Ezekiel 16:29 You have moreover multiplied your prostitution to the land of merchants, to Chaldea; and yet you weren't satisfied with this.
(See NIV)

Daniel 1:2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God; and he carried them into the land of Shinar to the house of his god: and he brought the vessels into the treasure house of his god.
(See NIV)

Zechariah 5:11 He said to me, "To build her a house in the land of Shinar. When it is prepared, she will be set there in her own place."
(See NIV)




Related Terms


Astarte (2 Occurrences)

Ashtoreth (3 Occurrences)

Chedorlaomer (5 Occurrences)

Chaldeans (82 Occurrences)

Esarhaddon (3 Occurrences)


Chaldea (8 Occurrences)

Nimrod (4 Occurrences)

Ashurbanipal (1 Occurrence)

Amraphel (2 Occurrences)



Babylonian (10 Occurrences)

Shinar (8 Occurrences)

Jehovah (20094 Occurrences)

Servant (738 Occurrences)

Yahweh (6653 Occurrences)

Moon (70 Occurrences)

Calneh (2 Occurrences)

Ahava (3 Occurrences)

Accad (1 Occurrence)

Persians (6 Occurrences)

Weights (14 Occurrences)

Ur (5 Occurrences)

Chaldees (13 Occurrences)

Amorites (82 Occurrences)

Measures (50 Occurrences)

Seal (47 Occurrences)

Euphrates (36 Occurrences)

Canaan (102 Occurrences)

Sennacherib (13 Occurrences)

Nations (683 Occurrences)

Canaanites (63 Occurrences)


Tablets (31 Occurrences)


Philistines (224 Occurrences)

Tell (3056 Occurrences)

Dispersion (4 Occurrences)

Table (125 Occurrences)

Cyrus (20 Occurrences)

Elamites (2 Occurrences)

Elam (24 Occurrences)


Money (284 Occurrences)

Philosophy (1 Occurrence)

Potter (14 Occurrences)

Pottery (11 Occurrences)

Bar-jesus (1 Occurrence)

Barjesus (1 Occurrence)

Babylonish (1 Occurrence)

Cush (31 Occurrences)

Assur (2 Occurrences)

Arioch (6 Occurrences)

Asshur (133 Occurrences)


Attitudes (1 Occurrence)


Nebuchadrezzar (31 Occurrences)

Images (158 Occurrences)

Code (6 Occurrences)

Brick (10 Occurrences)

Eden (19 Occurrences)

Syria (73 Occurrences)

Nebuchadnezzar (90 Occurrences)

Boats (11 Occurrences)


Hiddekel (2 Occurrences)

Ships (46 Occurrences)



Hebrew (37 Occurrences)

Nineveh (23 Occurrences)

Golden (86 Occurrences)

Confusion (71 Occurrences)


Demoniac (7 Occurrences)

Demon (26 Occurrences)

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