The Striding Lion Up Close
What did the Jews think when they saw this lion?
When Jerusalem was conquered by king Nebuchadnezzar, the Jewish prisoners were led to Babylon, the land of idolatry. They must of had many thoughts when they saw all these lions in their approach into the city. The lion represented Ishtar, the warfare-deity. It was believed in ancient Babylon that Ishtar, the queen of heaven was not only the giver of life but the goddess of warfare. In one myth she forced her way through the gates of the underworld:
"If thou openest not the gate to let me enter, I will break the door, I will wrench the lock, I will smash the door-posts, I will force the doors. I will bring up the dead to eat the living. And the dead will outnumber the living." - Ishtar, Babylonian Myth
The ancient lion of Babylon on the Ishtar Gate was made of molded brick with polychrome glaze and appeared along the side of the 'Processional Way' in Babylon around 604-562 B.C. The 'Processional Way' led out of the city through the massive Ishtar Gate, the lion was the symbol of the goddess Ishtar. There were some 120 lions such as this one decorated along the walls. This painting is from a wall relief at the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago. It is 90.3 cm high and 230.5 cm wide. It was purchased in Berlin in 1931.
"For I will rise up against them," says the LORD of hosts, "And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity," says the LORD. "I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction," says the LORD of hosts. Isaiah 14:22-23