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The Ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were considered one of the wonders of the ancient world. The Greek historian Herodotus described Babylon in great detail.
King Nebuchadnezzar built them in 580 BC apparently for his wife Amytis, daughter of the Median King Astyages, who was homesick for the mountains and vegetation of her native land.
The site was located by an archaeologist named Koldeway at the northeast corner of Nebuchadnezzar's palace near the Ishtar Gate. The gardens were probably developed on a structure like a ziggurat and built in the form of elevated terraces. Koldeway discovered huge vaults and arches at the site. He also uncovered an ancient hydraulic system like a pump drawing water from the river. The building was about 75 feet high and the gardens were at different levels which grew around and on top of a building.
"For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him. I have given him the beasts of the field also."
- Jer 28:14
"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there. But wild beasts of the desert will lie there, And their houses will be full of owls; Ostriches will dwell there, And wild goats will caper there. The hyenas will howl in their citadels, And jackals in their pleasant palaces. Her time is near to come, And her days will not be prolonged."
- Isaiah 13:19-22
"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
Jeremiah 21:7 - And afterward, saith the LORD, I will deliver Zedekiah king of Judah, and his servants, and the people, and such as are left in this city from the pestilence, from the sword, and from the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of those that seek their life: and he shall smite them with the edge of the sword; he shall not spare them, neither have pity, nor have mercy.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
King Nebuchadnezzar built the stunning and massive Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which towered within the great empire, and became one of the wonders of the world. The King of Babylon and his beautiful gardens shared two things in common: (1) they both inspired awe, and (2) they were both greatly humbled.
God called King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon his "servant," and prophesied through Jeremiah that he would conquer Judah in judgment for their sins.
And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. Jer. 27:6
The great king of Babylon was exalted in a power and majesty that few humans attain. Daniel, captured by the Babylonian army in the siege of Jerusalem, (606 BC) was brought back to Babylon to serve Nebuchadnezzar. God gave Daniel favor before the King. In Daniel's first interpretation of the King’s dreams, God affirmed the glory He gave Nebuchadnezzar.
Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Dan. 2:37, 38
Who among us could be exalted this high, and not feel powerful pride for our position? Who would not feel that there must be something very special about us to have obtained so much? Such ominous earthly grandeur was too much for the king.
At the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon and spoke:
The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. Dan. 4:29-31
God humbled the great king. God gave the king his empire, and God was showing that He can take it away. The king lost his sanity, all human dignity, and he lived for a season like an animal. After his trial was finished, God restored him to power, and he carried etched within his soul the lesson of the ages: humility.
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? Dan. 4:34,35
His spectacular gardens, once a magnificent sight to the entire world, were also humbled, by slow and steady forces of time. Yet the ruins still contain an echo of the wisdom Nebuchadnezzar learned in his lifetime. All things on this earth will pass away; only God and His kingdom will endure. It is better to clothe ourselves in humility, as did Jesus our Lord, The King of Kings, building our identity around God our Rock, than to boast and rely upon things which have no ultimate value and will soon pass away.