The City of Babylon

Babylon or "babilu" means (gate of god). It was one of the most famous cities of the ancient world located in the plain of shinar on the Euphrates River, about 50 miles south of Modern Baghdad. It was the capital of the mighty Babylonian Empire. During the time of Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) who captured Jerusalem, Babylon was at the height of its glory and the most important city of the whole Mesopotamia region. Nebuchadnezzar built palaces, temples, mighty walls and beautiful gateways. The hanging gardens of Babylon were considered one of the wonders of the ancient world.

The Jewish captives lived in towns and villages along the Chebar River and were treated very fairly by the Babylonians. The Jews were allowed to live together in communities, they were allowed to farm and perform other sorts of labor to earn income. Many Jews eventually became wealthy.

Clay tablets were excavated near the Ishtar Gate which indicate that even in captivity Jehoiachin was referred to as the "king of Judah" and he received abundant food supplies from the royal storehouse.

During captivity the Jews were encouraged by the prophet Jeremiah from Jerusalem to take wives, build houses, plant gardens and to take advantage of their situation because they were going to be there for seventy years.

Map of the Deportation of Judah

2 Kings 24:20 "For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, that He finally cast them out from His presence"

In the Book of II Kings we read of the deportation of the Jews from their land to the land of Babylon, and then the Book ends 37 years later with the account of Jehoiachin who was blinded and in captivity in Babylon. After 30 years of imprisonment, Evil-merodach ascended the throne of Babylon and at the beginning of his rule he chose to honor the Judean prisoner Jehoiachin. The Jewish king was given appropriate garments and an income and made a member of the court of Babylon, with other deposed kings. This was no doubt a comforting sign to the Jewish captives who were still in the "land of bondage."

In all actuality it was the Lord who had given favor to Jehoiachin, and it was the Lord that had allowed the promised Seed (Messiah) to pass through the loins of Jehoiachin as Matthew states:

Matt 1:11-16

11 Josiah begot Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.

13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.

14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.

15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.

16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

God was faithful to His promises that they would remain in the land of Babylon for seventy years, and the "Son of David" would still come to bring salvation to the world.

Even in bitter captivity there was hope for God’s people, the promises were being fulfilled and the Scriptures continued to be written:

Ps 137:1-6

1 By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion.

2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it.

3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

4 How shall we sing the LORD's song In a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill!

6 If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth -- If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.