BABYLON (bab'y-lon), (Gr. Ba/3uXdv, bab-u-lohn'; (Heb. bd-bel, Babel, meaning confusion of tongues (Gen. xi:1-9).
I. 1. Name. The biblical account ascribes its foundation to the descendants of Cush and fol lowers of Nimrod (Gen. xi:2-9) who came from the east and settled in the plain of Shinar. This state ment distinguishes the people who founded' the city from the Semitic race who afterward pos sessed it. All that we have been able to learn of the city and its history points strongly to the same view. The Babylonians called the city gate of god, and b'db-ildni, gate of the gods. In the Sumerian inscriptions (see BABYLONIA) it is called Ka-din-gira, gate of god; Tin-tir, seat of life; Shuanna, and E-ki. In Daniel iv: 3o the place is appropriately termed ' Babylon the Great;' and by Josephus (Antiq. viii:6) the Great Baby lon. It was the metropolis of the province of Bab ylon and of the Babylonio-Chaldzan empire.
2. Situation and Appearance. The city was located on the Euphrates (Jer. xiii:4, 5, 7; xivi:2, 6), the great stream, which corresponds to the name given in Gen. xv:i8, etc. Two walls surrounded it. The outer one was said to have been built by Belus and repaired by Nebuchad nezzar. Babylon was laid out in the form of a square. The length of the wall surrounding it is variously given by historians. Ctesias makes it 36o furlongs in circumference; Quintus Curtius, 368; Strabo, 385; and Herodotus, 480. It was between 6o and 7o feet high (Sir Henry Ra•linson) and wide enough at the top for a four-horse chariot to turn around. These defenses were remarkable in strength for the times, and one of the greatest evils foretold by Jeremiah was their destruction (Jer. 1i:58). The cuneiform inscriptions do not sustain the account given by the classical writers of the height of the walls and the extent of the city.
3. Nebuchadnezzar. In the India House, London, is the large inscription of Nebuchadnez zar which is the chief authority regarding the structures of Babylon. From this we learn that Nebuchadnezzar filled the city with temples and public buildings. Among the ruins are countless numbers of bricks bearing the name of this king, which supports the statements of the inscription and of the Book of Daniel that Nebuchadnezzar was a builder-king. From the fallen towers of
Babylon have arisen not only all the present cities in its vicinity, but others which, like itself, have long since gone down into the dust. Since the days of Alexander four capitals, at least have been built out of its remains— Seleucia by the Grer ks, Ctesiphon by the Parthians, Al Nlaidan by the Persians, and Kula by the Caliphs; with towns, villages, and caravansaries w idiom number. The necessary fragments and materials were trans ported along the rivers and the canals. The river ran through the city from north to south; and on each side was a quay of the same thickness as the walk of the city, and too stadia in length. In these quays were gates of brass, and from each of them steps descending into the river. A bridge was thrown across the river, of great beauty and admirable contrivance, a furlong in length and 3o feet in breadth. As the Euphrates overflows dur ing the summer months, through the inciting of the snows on the mountains of Armenia, two canals Were cut to turn the course of the waters into the igris, and vast artificial embankments were raised on each side of the river.
4. Palace of Nebuchadnezzar. The palace built by Nebuchadnezzar was prodigious in size and superb in embellishments. Its outer wall embraced six miles; within that circumference were two other embattled walls, besides a great tower. Three brazen gates led into the grand area, and every gate of consequence throughout the city was of brass. In accordance with this fact are the terms which Isaiah (xlv:t, 2) employs when, in the name ofJehovah, he promises Cyrus that the city should fall before hirn, 'I will open before him the two-leaved gates; I will break in pieces the gates of brass' a prophecy which was fulfilled to the letter when Cyrus niade himself master of the place in the dead of the night. Having first by means of its canals turned the river into thereat dry lake west of Babylon, and then marched through the emptied channel, he made Iris way to the outer wails the fortified palace on its banks; when finding the brazen gates incautiously left open by the royal guards while engaged in carousals, he entered with all his train; 'the Lord of Hosts was his leader,' and Babylon, as an empire, was no more.