Babylon was a fortified city within the region of southern Mesopotamia (modern south Iraq) known as Babylonia and later identified as Chaldea.
Throughout the OT and NT Babylon stands as a city and nation opposed to God and his people. The development of Babylonia involves the demise of Judah at the providential hands of Jehovah God. Babylon would be God's battle axe against the rebellious people of Judah (Jeremiah 51:20). Jeremiah tells us that Babylon was God's servant providentially brought to power to bring down Jerusalem (Jeremiah 25:8-9; 51:20). Like fishermen with nets and hunters with bows they would come after those of Judah and none would escape (Jeremiah 16:16-17). Though Babylon was God's servant they were not above his divine laws. Eventually, their reign of terror would end at the hands of the Almighty (Jeremiah 25:12; 50•.14).
Babylon Becomes a World Power
The Assyrian Empire had reached a level of world dominance during the days of Isaiah under Tiglath-pileser. Their world dominance, however, was soon to falter. Secular history records the fall of Assyria during the days of Josiah. The Medes were gaining world supremacy at the weakening of Assyria under the King Cyaxares. Their dominance stretched over parts of Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, and Cilicia. During the year 605 BC Saracus was pronounced king in place of his father Cyaxares over the Medes. Saracus appointed Nabopolassar (father of Nebuchadnezzar) to be governor of the province of Babylon. Twenty Imageyears later, 565 BC, the Medes and Babylonians marched on the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and defeated them. The treasures and land of Assyria was shared between the Medes and Babylonians. All the land lying on the western bank of the Tigris fell to the share of Nabopolassar of Babylon. The land lying west of the Euphrates was occupied by Egypt.
Pharaoh Necho of Egypt was at war with Assyria during the Medes and Babylonians' conflict with Assyria. Necho had marched through Palestine and killed Josiah as he went out in an attempt to stop the Egyptians (2 Kings 23:29ff; 2 Chronicles 35:20ff). The Egyptian king made Eliakim, son of Josiah, king in his father's stead and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Necho continued his quest through Syria. Necho made it as far as Carchemish when the Babylonians and Medes defeated Nineveh.
After defeating Assyria and dividing up their territory Nabopolassar entrusted the command of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar immediately marched on Egypt at Carchemish and defeated the Egyptians and Necho on the Euphrates. Nebuchadnezzar pursued the Egyptians through Syria and Palestine and at the same time overtook Judah, making Jehoiakim a vassal king in 565 BC. He carried away much of the temple's treasures and many Jewish youths, including Daniel (see 2 Kings 24: 1 ; 2 Chronicles 36:6ff). Jeremiah's prophetic proclamation of Judah spending 70 years in Babylonian captivity began (see Jeremiah 25:8ff). Over the next twenty years, Judah would exist under the subjection to Babylon with two more major attacks and deportation of its citizens at 555 BC and 544 BC. The final attack decimated Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple of Jehovah and burned the entire city with its walls down to the ground (2 Kings 25:8-12). Babylon had done their God ordained work yet remained subject to the same wrath of God that they released upon Judah.
Next Week Part Two of "Babylon"
We shall examine Babylon's sin and God's oracle against them. The lesson is simple...No man or nation is above the laws of God.
John C. Robertson