Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Burden of Philistia (Part III)

"What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it." (Isaiah 14:32)

These messengers may be the Philistines who would come and inquire of Isaiah concerning his prophecies against them, or they may be those who came to solicit the assistance of Judah against the Assyrians.

At least twice, Judah was approached by Philistia with offers of an alliance. The first attempt to gain Judah's aid was made by the king of Ashdod who revolted against Sargon in 711 BC. The prophecies against the Egyptian and Ethiopian allies of Philistia in Isaiah 20:1-6 may be what prevented King Hezekiah from joining this first offer of an alliance.

The second offer came when Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ekron revolted against the new ruler Sennacherib sometime near 705/704 BC. Hezekiah did join this coalition, and his attempts to prepare for the retaliation of Sennacherib can be seen in II Chronicles 32:1-8.

In this verse, the reader finds the thoughts of the Holy Spirit concerning the matter of alliances with the ungodly. JEHOVAH of the armies has founded Zion, and its rulers need not trust in any man. Just because Hezekiah did join in a coalition against Assyria, it does not mean that God was in favor of the decision. This verse here in Isaiah firmly establishes God's desire for Judah. She was to be steadfast in faith toward God. She was to fear Him. She was to serve Him. If the poor in spirit as well as the poor in possessions would trust in the reality of God's preserving power, they would be delivered.

What then is the saint's response to be concerning alliances with the ungodly in any dispensation? "...The LORD hath founded Zion, and the poor of his people shall trust in it."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Burden of Philistia (Part II)

"And the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety: and I will kill thy root with famine, and he shall slay thy remnant." (Isaiah 14:30)

It would seem that the first part of this verse is speaking of the poor and needy of Judah.  Because of Ahaz's sin, God had allowed the Philistines to invade the southern portion of Judah (II Chronicles 28:18-19).  Undoubtedly, the poorer class of Judah suffered greatly in these invasions which deprived them of life's necessities not to mention the hazards inflicted upon their very lives.  In Judah's chastening at the hand of the Philistines, God was not blind to the terrors wrought toward His people.  The Lord has a special place in His heart for those in need (Malachi 3:5, John 13:29, Galatians 2:10), and here He reminds them of His desire to satisfy those needs.

On the other hand, God turns to Philistia and promises to destroy the nation all the way down to the root.

"Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou, whole Palestina, art dissolved: for there shall come from the north a smoke, and none shall be alone in his appointed times." (Isaiah 14:31)

The gates, a place of prominence and business, would howl with the cries of those being overcome in war.  Archeological excavations in ancient Philistine territory have revealed the reality of these horrors of war.  As retribution for her continual hatred of the things of God, Philistia would literally melt away.

From the north, the Assyrian armies would come as they advanced upon the nation.  The last sentence could be translated, "And there shall not be a straggler at the place of assembly."  The Assyrian troops would not fail to meet at the place to which the signaler summoned them.  God would see to it that the armies of Assyria were efficient and successful in their rallies and consequent attacks.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Burden of Philistia

"In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden." (Isaiah 14:28)

Precise dating of the kings is often difficult, but Ahaz seems to have died sometime near 716 BC. Some older commentators have placed his death near 727; however, the overlapping reigns of the kings mentioned in the books of Kings and Chronicles coupled with information obtained from Assyrian inscriptions seems to favor a date of 716.

By the time King Ahaz died, the Philistines had already experienced conflict with Assyria, but Ahaz's death marked the beginning of new and more devastating encounters.

"Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken: for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." (Isaiah 14:29)

The land of the Philistines which marked the western border of Judah is commanded to stop rejoicing. Philistia is the meaning of the Hebrew word behind Palestina. In Psalm 60:8 and 108:9, the same Hebrew noun appears where it has been translated Philistia. The relatively small nation of Philistia which consisted of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath was commanded to stop rejoicing in what they perceived to be a victory.

Three kings are seen in this verse, and they all belong to the Assyrian Empire. They are Tiglathpileser III, Sargon II and Sennacherib respectively. Some years prior to this prophecy, Philistia had been smitten by Tiglathpileser. As mentioned earlier, when Ahaz requested aid from Assyria, Tiglathpileser responded by marching westward and first targeting Philistia.

Gaza, a major intersection for the Egyptian and Arabian trading routes was conquered and turned into an Assyrian trading station. The Assyrian king commemorated this event by setting up a stele at the Brook of Egypt. The stele has never been recovered, but its existence is confirmed through inscriptions found in the ancient palace of Kalhu. These inscriptions describe Tiglathpileser's conquest of Gaza. Quite likely, Tiglathpileser III is this "rod" that smote the Philistines sometime near 734 BC.

Hanunu king of Gaza bows before Tiglathpileser III

Tiglathpileser died in 727 BC. With their hated conqueror dead, the Philistines were rejoicing in the prospect of regaining their independence; however, the Lord warned them that the next two Assyrian foes would be more devastating than the former.

Shalmaneser V was actually the next king to reign; however, his time was short (726-722) and his interaction with the Philistines limited; therefore, the text passes over him. Sargon II was the next king to inflict serious injury on Philistia, and he is this cockatrice mentioned in the text. An alternate translation would read, "For out of the snake's root shall come forth a poisonous serpent... ."

In 721 BC, Hanunu (the king of Gaza) joined a coalition against Assyria led by Hamath in Syria. This uprising occurred during the transition of Sargon to the throne of Assyria - an event often seen as the opportune time for rebellion due to the inherent contemporaneous instability.

Sargon first defeated the Hamath forces at Qarqar and then marched south against the Philistines who had allied themselves with the armies of Egypt. The allied forces were defeated at the border city of Raphia south of Gaza. Hanunu was deported to Assyria and Gaza remained as a buffer state between the nations of Egypt and Assyria. In 716 BC (the same year as Ahaz's death), Sargon settled deportees on the border between Egypt and Philistia near the Brook of Egypt. This established an Assyrian outpost in the area and further intensified the reality of Assyria's presence.

In 711 BC, Ashdod refused to pay tribute to the Assyrians and entered into an alliance with her neighbors. Sargon replaced the rebel king of Ashdod, but it did not take long for Ashdod's citizens to depose him and set up their own ruler. Sargon responded by invading Philistia and crushing the rebellion. A basalt stele commemorating this event has been recovered in the excavations of Ashdod.

The last king, Sennacherib, is compared to a fiery flying serpent. As a cobra wields itself about and strikes without hesitation, even so Sennacherib would come against Philistia and her surrounding neighbors.

At the death of Sargon, Ashdod revolted. This time, she gained the support of the kings of Ashkelon and Ekron. Egypt also saw this as an opportune time to push back the ever-encroaching Assyrian forces and sent troops to assist in the revolt. Inscriptions by Sennacherib can help shed light on the details of the events that followed. “The people of Ekron became afraid and called upon the Egyptian king, the bowmen, chariots and horses of the king of Melukha [Ethiopia], a boundless host, and these came to their aid ... In the plain of Eltkekeh their battle lines were drawn up against me, and they sharpened their weapons.” In the Battle of Eltekeh (701 BC), Sennacherib defeated the Philistines and their Egyptian allies and hung their bodies on poles for display.

As the text says, "Rejoice not, thou whole Palestina... ." The rod was broken, but the offspring proved to be worse.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: The LORD'S Purpose

"The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders." (Isaiah 14:24-25)

Still focused upon the context of deliverance, the Lord turns His attention from the future destruction of the Babylonians to the destruction of Israel's present enemy - Assyria. The city of Babylon was intimately connected to the reign of the Assyrian kings; therefore, prophecies of Assyria's fall being linked to a passage concerning the fall of Babylon is not surprising.

The word behind Assyrian could be translated Ashur. This name is used to describe both the nation of Assyria as well as Assyria's chief god. Upon the mountains of Israel, God would trample Ashur and his followers under foot. Numerous times in the preceding chapters, God had assured Judah of her deliverance from Assyria, and once more this promise is reinforced. The pouring out of God's fury upon Sennacherib's army was soon to come.

"This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isaiah 14:26-27)

The Lord closes with a statement concerning the power of His Word. The nations against whom the Lord had pronounced judgment would not escape. Those upon whom the Lord would exercise grace and deliverance would not be forgotten. God's purposes will come to pass.

Many years after the delivery of these prophecies, the king of Babylon would ask Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael, "...And who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands (Daniel 3:15)?" He would soon find out that their God was the LORD of hosts; and after the miraculous deliverance of these three saints, Nebuchadnezzar would compliment these verses in Isaiah by saying, "...There is no other God that can deliver after this sort (Daniel 3:29)."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Israel's Proverb (Part V)

"Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities. For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 14:21-23)

The Lord does not punish the child for the father's sin (Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18); however, when the child shows the same wretched character and lack of repentance as his father, he too will be destroyed as his ancestors were. Jesus spoke of this principle when He told the unrepentant scribes and Pharisees,

Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Matthew 23:31-33)?

The word behind nephew likely refers to the grandchildren of the king. God would leave neither son nor grandson to sit on Babylon's throne. The Lord pronounced a similar judgment against Jehoiachin in Jeremiah 22:28-30. God does not play favorites. No man is beyond God's judgment.

A bittern refers to a breed of water-fowl; however, the Hebrew word behind this name is somewhat vague and difficult to translate. Exactly what animal is being described is uncertain. The point is one of desolation. Animals, and not people, would take up residence in Babylon after God's judgment.

God literally turned Babylon's landscape into pools of water. Undoubtedly, Cyrus' diversion of the Euphrates during his conquest of Babylon contributed to the flooding of the surrounding landscape. Today, much of Babylon's remains are covered by the Euphrates river, and the city's glory has been swallowed up by swamps and marshes.

The word besom is a synonym for the word broom. God took His broom of destruction and literally swept Babylon away.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Israel's Proverb (Part IV)

"Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned." (Isaiah 14:15-20)

The word yet is used in stark contrast to what was just spoken by the king of Babylon. He said that he would sit in the sides of the northern mountain, but God said that he would instead be brought down to the sides of the pit. Hell, not heaven, would be his final place of occupancy. Such is the end of Satan's ministers. Someday their master will join them there.

The king started off with amazing power. During his tyrannical reign, relief from his oppression likely seemed impossible; yet his end was powerless and miserable. Those who would look upon the dead king would be amazed as they considered his once powerful rule. Rebellion, no matter how grand, is doomed to be destroyed.

When Cyrus liberated Babylon in 539 BC, he released many who were being held captive in the city. Exiles were permitted to return to their homelands. The Babylonian king did not open the house of his prisoners in perfect keeping with the oppressing nature of the wicked one. For thirty-seven years, Jehoiachin resided in a Babylonian prison before finally being released by the providence of God (Jeremiah 52:31-34). Satan does not release the one who is pulled in by his allurements. This attitude is in stark contrast to the God of heaven who loosens the bonds of the prisoner (Psalm 145:7). Jesus said,

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).

Satan and his followers hold on to their prisoners, but Christ seeks to set people free by the redemption found through faith in His blood. Those who claim Christ's name should have this same liberating spirit.

Like a withered or disease-infested branch that is pruned and discarded, the king of Babylon would be cast aside after being slain. God promised that his offspring would not continue for long. The Lord does not bless the posterity of the wicked.  

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Israel's Proverb (Part III)

"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." (Isaiah 14:12-14)

Judgments against Satan are certainly apparent in these verses; however, in context, God is still speaking a proverb against the king of Babylon. By making these verses apply to none but the devil, human application is missed. In seeing the devil's rebellion as the only thrust of these verses, one will quickly pass over the reality of how hard and arrogant the human heart can become. In light of this, the reader would do well to keep in mind God's judgment against both Satan and his puppet kings.

The Hebrew word behind Lucifer means a shining one. The noun form of this word appears only here; although, the verb form appears numerous times. The name Lucifer is from the Latin, and it means light-bearing or light-bearer. In this verse, God exclaimed to the king, "How are you fallen from heaven, O shining one, son of the dawn!" It must not be assumed that God had no application for a man because He said that this shining one had fallen from heaven. The heathen kings of those days viewed themselves as seated in the seat of the highest authority as will soon be seen. God was telling this deceived king that his position of high rule was not quite as stable as he thought it was.

In regards to the evil power behind this king, the Lord has brought to light the reality of Satan's fall from his once honored position as God's anointed cherub (Ezekiel 28:14). Jesus told His disciples, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18)." The devil's fall from his position of service to God is a reality, and his time to roam and to destroy this earth is limited.

Motivated by the evils of human nature and empowered by the godless desires of his dark master, the king of Babylon literally "laid prostrate" the nations through his oppression. The kings of Assyria and the kings of Babylonia were all guilty of this.

Just like Satan, the king of Babylon was not content with the power which God had allowed him to possess. He had to have more. No one knows for certain the meaning of the phrase "the sides of the north." When attempting to explain these things, it must be remembered that these heathen kings did not understand the full realities of God and His dwelling place. They often equated God and His seat of authority to what they knew and practiced in their heathen religions. In light of this, the phrase "sides of the north" likely represents what this king considered to be the seat of the gods, a place where he would sit as a god. The context of his statements would certainly be in keeping with this conclusion. Regardless of what is meant exactly by the phrase, one thing is for certain, this human king thought himself capable of sitting in the highest seat possible. He viewed himself as powerful and as wise as the Most High. This is exactly the same attitude that destroyed Satan. In I Timothy 3:6, the reader is told that pride was the devil's condemnation. This conclusion is reinforced by God's pronouncement of judgment against Satan's attitude in Ezekiel 28:17.

Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Israel's Proverb (Part II)

"The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee." (Isaiah 14:7-11)

It was common practice for an army to cut down the surrounding trees of a city and to use them for the manufacturing of fences, towers and battering rams. Many times the enemy would simply destroy every tree and mar the land as much as possible (II Kings 3:19); therefore, the Lord presents a picture of an inanimate forest crying out for joy since it no longer has to fear the violent ax of the enemy. Man's sin, and the violence which results from that sin, reaches out and touches all of creation.

Sheol, the underworld and place of the departed dead, is seen twice in this passage. It first appears as hell and then as grave. The absolute disgrace of this once proud king is seen as he dies and descends into hell. The Hebrew word behind dead refers to dead spirits. This passage clearly teaches that a man's soul will live forever somewhere. In this case, the unregenerate are seen suffering for eternity in a godless grave.

The kings of Babylon viewed themselves as all-powerful. This attitude may be readily observed in Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar who both suffered the consequences of their pride and disregard for God's glory. However, God promised to openly display the fallacy of this thinking. Even the dead would be surprised and morbidly delighted in the king's fall. The first word for worms refers to maggots. Far removed from the vain pomp of its former glory, the king's rotting body would become infested with maggots.

God's future punishment of Satan parallels the heart of these verses. The devil will not be permitted to terrorize the earth indefinitely. Someday, the lake of fire will be "moved" for Satan as he is consigned to the flames to spend eternity with the remaining two members of his unholy trinity (Revelation 20:10).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Israel's Proverb

"For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors." (Isaiah 14:1-2)

The Lord never forgot Israel during her seventy years of exile in Babylonia, and He used Cyrus to free the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Sometime near 539-538 BC, the first wave of exiles returned under the leadership of Jeshua and Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:1-2). In 457 BC, Ezra returned with more people; and 444 BC witnessed the return of Nehemiah with yet another group of Jews.

The Bible is filled with examples of foreigners who joined themselves to Israel thus adopting their culture and religion; however, the strong presence of Jewish victory and supremacy in these verses undoubtedly points the reader to Christ's kingdom. Israel has yet to display such power over its enemies, but in the Millennium, she will rule over the nations (Isaiah 49:22-23, 60:9-12).

"And it shall come to pass in the day that the LORD shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! The LORD hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth." (Isaiah 14:3-6)

Israel's rebellion brought only sorrow, fear and harsh servitude. Twice, Proverbs says, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (14:12, 16:25)." Sin often appears attractive. A little lust, a measure of pride, a complaining spirit or a bitter attitude can seem so appealing to the flesh, but such things lead to pain and sorrow. Isaiah's countrymen had dug themselves into a hole from which they could not escape. Only the Lord's mercy and righteousness could deliver them. God's nature is characterized by deliverance. The Lord is One Who helps those who cannot help themselves. "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings (Psalm 40:2)."

The verses which are about to be presented have been the focus of much debate. Is the king of Babylon a man, or due to the language used is the text speaking of Satan? Both are represented. Behind every evil ruler is the god of this world - the devil. A clear example of this may be seen in Ezekiel 28. There, God gives a warning to the prince of Tyrus who had become so lifted up in pride that he considered himself to be God. In verse eleven, the language of Ezekiel 28 changes somewhat and God begins to speak to the king of Tyrus. Satan is clearly represented in the language of the remaining verses as God pronounces future judgment upon the wicked one who is the empowering force behind the man sitting upon the throne of Tyrus.

Such things are a perfect illustration of what is seen in these verses. On the one hand, the king of Babylon is seen as a prideful man who is destined to reap the destructive consequences of his pride. On the other hand, he may be viewed as Satan, the one who, due to pride, has fallen from his place in heaven and now seeks to control and to destroy every man.

The fall of Babylon is presented as complete and unhindered. Babylon was an oppressor of humanity through her lust, warfare, idolatry and insatiable desire for more. Her kings of both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires ruled their subjects with continual cruelty. They could not be content with what they had. Always, their hearts craved more, and mercy did not prevent them from obtaining what they desired. God remembered such things.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Babylon's Destruction (Part III)

"It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged." (Isaiah 13:20-22)

Unlike many ancient sites on which a city once stood, Babylon's ruins would not even be used by shepherds or other nomadic peoples. A literal translation of verse twenty one would read, "But wild beasts of the dessert shall lie there, and their houses shall be filled with owls, and the daughters of the ostrich shall settle there, and the male goats shall leap there." The Hebrew word behind satyr means a male goat. This word is used numerous times in Leviticus where it is seen in connection with the sacrifices. Twice this word is translated as devils (Leviticus 17:7, II Chronicles 11:15), and twice it is translated as satyrs (Isaiah 13:21, 34:14). Quite likely, the devil worship against which Israel was warned involved goat-like demon symbols. Perhaps this is why the word is translated twice as devils in the previously mentioned references. A satyr is a mythical goat-like creature which is half goat and half man. The King James translators may have seen this passage as predicting demons occupying the forsaken ruins of the city and therefore chose the word satyr. Regardless, whether God was speaking of literal wild goats or whether He was speaking of demons, the picture is one of eerie desolation.

The word dragon is speaking of any reptile, lizard-like creature that might take up residence in the ruins of a destroyed city. Although Babylon's complete desolation would take some years to be accomplished, the Lord promised that the city's days were as good as over. When God pronounces judgment, the end result is so sure that the event may be viewed as fulfilled before it has actually taken place.

The conquest of the Persian Empire, the waters of the Euphrates River, Alexander's unintentional demolition of the city's structures, war, unrest and the destructive sands of time have all been used by God to take Babylon from being the world's most sought-after city to being a ruinous heap buried beneath sand and the unrelenting waters of the Euphrates. No obstacle is too magnificent, too proud or too powerful for God to bring down.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The First Burden of Babylon: Babylon's Destruction (Part II)

"And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah." (Isaiah 13:19)

The ancient Greek historian Herodotus claimed that Babylon's walls were some 56 miles in length and her walls 320 feet in height. This size is disputed by many, and some have proposed that the walls were 10 miles long and much lower. Regardless, the city was large and impressive. It housed the famous ziggurat temple of Marduk, that which was quite possibly the infamous Tower of Babel. The city was known for its impressive walls and its many golden gods. Indeed, to the heathen eye, it was the beauty of the Chaldeans' excellency; yet God promised that its last end would be devastation.

The Lord did not bring about the complete destruction of Babylon in a single day. He did it slowly over time. After the Battle of Opis (539 BC), Cyrus took the city by surprise through diversion of the portion of the Euphrates River which ran through the city. Unappreciated by the Babylonian populace, King Nabonidus and his son Belshazzar were easily overcome on that famous night described in Daniel 5. The city was conquered relatively peacefully and Cyrus was hailed as a liberator. The city continued under the reign of the Persians and underwent an attack by King Xerxes who suppressed a rebellion. This resulted in bloodshed as well as damage to the city's structures. After the fall of the Persian Empire to Alexander the Great and his army, the city experienced a steady decline. In his zeal to beautify one of Babylon's temples, Alexander ordered the existing bricks torn down in preparation for a more grandiose project. His dream did not come to fruition. Alexander died before his project could be completed, and the bricks of the temple were scavenged by the poorer citizens and used for simpler tasks. Unknown to Alexander, his desires to beautify the city for himself were used of God for the purpose of the city's demolition. In the fighting that followed Alexander's death, Babylon's citizens either fled the city or were displaced (likely a combination of both). Over time, the city fell into disrepair. Although various points in history would witness some small revival of Babylon's structures, the once great city would never again witness her previous splendor. For all intents and purposes, she became as destitute as Sodom and Gomorrah.