Babylon, kingdom of

called "the land of the Chaldeans" (Jer. 24:5; Ezek, 12:13), was
an extensive province in Central Asia along the valley of the
Tigris from the Persian Gulf northward for some 300 miles. It
was famed for its fertility and its riches. Its capital was the
city of Babylon, a great commercial centre (Ezek. 17:4; Isa.
43:14). Babylonia was divided into the two districts of Accad in
the north, and Summer (probably the Shinar of the Old Testament)
in the south. Among its chief cities may be mentioned Ur (now
Mugheir or Mugayyar), on the western bank of the Euphrates;
Uruk, or Erech (Gen. 10:10) (now Warka), between Ur and Babylon;
Larsa (now Senkereh), the Ellasar of Gen. 14:1, a little to the
east of Erech; Nipur (now Niffer), south-east of Babylon;
Sepharvaim (2 Kings 17:24), "the two Sipparas" (now Abu-Habba),
considerably to the north of Babylon; and Eridu, "the good city"
(now Abu-Shahrein), which lay originally on the shore of the
Persian Gulf, but is now, owing to the silting up of the sand,
about 100 miles distant from it. Another city was Kulunu, or
Calneh (Gen. 10:10).

The salt-marshes at the mouths of the Euphrates and Tigris
were called Marratu, "the bitter" or "salt", the Merathaim of
Jer. 50:21. They were the original home of the Kalda, or
Chaldeans.

The most famous of the early kings of Babylonia were Sargon of
Accad (B.C.3800) and his son, Naram-Sin, who conquered a large
part of Western Asia, establishing their power in Israel, and
even carrying their arms to the Sinaitic peninsula. A great
Babylonian library was founded in the reign of Sargon. Babylonia
was subsequently again broken up into more than one state, and
at one time fell under the domination of Elam. This was put an
end to by Khammu-rabi (Amraphel), who drove the Elamites out of
the country, and overcame Arioch, the son of an Elamite prince.
From this time forward Babylonia was a united monarchy. About
B.C. 1750 it was conquered by the Kassi, or Kosseans, from the
mountains of Elam, and a Kassite dynasty ruled over it for 576
years and 9 months.

In the time of Khammu-rabi, Syria and Israel were subject
to Babylonia and its Elamite suzerain; and after the overthrow
of the Elamite supremacy, the Babylonian kings continued to
exercise their influence and power in what was called "the land
of the Amorites." In the epoch of the Kassite dynasty, however,
Canaan passed into the hands of Egypt.

In B.C. 729, Babylonia was conquered by the Assyrian king
Tiglath-pileser III.; but on the death of Shalmaneser IV. it was
seized by the Kalda or "Chaldean" prince Merodach-baladan (2
Kings 20:12-19), who held it till B.C. 709, when he was driven
out by Sargon.

Under Sennacherib, Babylonia revolted from Assyria several
times, with the help of the Elamites, and after one of these
revolts Babylon was destroyed by Sennacherib, B.C. 689. It was
rebuilt by Esarhaddon, who made it his residence during part of
the year, and it was to Babylon that Manasseh was brought a
prisoner (2 Chr. 33:11). After the death of Esarhaddon,
Saul-sumyukin, the viceroy of Babylonia, revolted against his
brother the Assyrian king, and the revolt was suppressed with
difficulty.

When Nineveh was destroyed, B.C. 606, Nabopolassar, the
viceroy of Babylonia, who seems to have been of Chaldean
descent, made himself independent. His son Nebuchadrezzar
(Nabu-kudur-uzur), after defeating the Egyptians at Carchemish,
succeeded him as king, B.C. 604, and founded the Babylonian
empire. He strongly fortified Babylon, and adorned it with
palaces and other buildings. His son, Evil-merodach, who
succeeded him in B.C. 561, was murdered after a reign of two
years. The last monarch of the Babylonian empire was Nabonidus
(Nabu-nahid), B.C. 555-538, whose eldest son, Belshazzar
(Bilu-sar-uzur), is mentioned in several inscriptions. Babylon
was captured by Cyrus, B.C. 538, and though it revolted more
than once in later years, it never succeeded in maintaining its
independence.