The ancient kingdom of Babylon began its assent to world-sovereignty when a general, Nabopolassar, won its independence from the kingdom of Assyria and became Babylon’s first king. Very near the end of the seventh century B.C., Nabopolassar’s son, Nebuchadnezzar, succeeded him. Nebuchadnezzar was ambitious and powerful, intelligent and far-sighted. As far as God’s chosen people (or any other people of the region) were concerned, the kingdom of Babylon came to rule the whole world under Nebuchadnezzar’s leadership. This “king of kings”[1] built up his capitol city to represent his kingdom’s stunning power. According to Herodotus, the early historian, the city of Babylon was a perfect square with huge outer and inner walls enclosing approximately two hundred square miles of metropolis. Herodotus gave that the outer wall was about three hundred feet high and over eighty feet wide, and that there were one hundred gates by which to enter the city’s expansive precincts. The streets of the city were all straight and ran parallel with the walls creating square city blocks. Enough food was stored and grown within the city walls to sustain its inhabitants for decades in case of siege. The river Euphrates ran under the wall and through the city, and massive walls flanked the river’s inner-city banks. Colorful glazed bricks, towering temples and palaces, huge golden idols, the famous Hanging Gardens, and even the many reliefs of lions on Babylon’s walls all contributed to make the city a more than worthy representative of Nebuchadnezzar’s wealth and world-wide authority. Long before the king’s reign, even Inspiration had described Babylon as “the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency.”[2] God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream representing the Babylonian Empire as an image’s head made of gold;[3] He gave the prophet Daniel a dream representing the kingdom as a lion with eagle’s wings.[4]

But Babylon was at the peak of its power and glory under Nebuchadnezzar’s direction. One after another, four kings came to the Babylonian throne after Nebuchadnezzar’s death, none of whom reigned for very long or accomplished much militarily or politically. This is why Daniel was shown the lion of his first dream lose its wings, its aggressive stance, and its brave lion-heart.[5] The last king to reign over the Babylonian world-empire was Nabonidus. He was content to let his son, Belshazzar, reign jointly with him. It was during his reign that Daniel had the visions recorded in Daniel 7 and 8.[6]

The powerful Persian general, Cyrus, had recently tasted large-scale victory over the Lydian Empire in Asia Minor when he came against Belshazzar in 539 B.C. Babylon was taken by Cyrus in 538.


[1] Daniel 2:37.

[2] Isaiah 13:19.

[3] Daniel 2:37-38.

[4] Daniel 7:4. In Jeremiah 50:43-44, Babylon is likened to a lion.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Daniel 7:1, 8:1.

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