Babylon sinned against Jehovah (Jeremiah 50:14)
Babylon goes down in history as a nation that personifies evil (see Revelation 17:5). The vile nation considered herself to be deity (Isaiah 47:7), she was proud (Jeremiah 50:29), covetous (Jeremiah 51:13), and she was given to pleasure (Isaiah 47:8). Babylon stove against the Lord (Jeremiah 50:24) and destroyed his holy temple (Jeremiah 50:28; 51:11). The people of Babylon were idolaters (Jeremiah 50:2-3; 51:40). They worshiped Bel, Nebo, and Marduk. The influences of these gods are easily detected in the names of many Babylonian kings such as Nabopolassar, Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus; Merodach-baladan and Evil-merodach.
Babylon believed that they were innocent seeing that Judah had sinned against God's righteousness and were deserving of their demise (Jeremiah 50:7). Babylon rejoiced over the fall of Judah because they believed the victory to be deserving (Jeremiah 50:11). The Lord would punish Babylon (Jeremiah 50:18) and render to her what she was due (Jeremiah 51:6).
Babylon's lack of faith in God put her in a position to be punished. The Chaldeans put their confidence and trust in many things other than God. Babylon trusted in their wickedness (Isaiah 47:10). Babylon looked for help from enchanters, sorcerers, astrologers, stargazers, and prognosticators (fortune tellers who told people's future during the new moon - each month) (Isaiah 47:12-13). Babylon trusted in her deities, treasures, and the Euphrates River (Jeremiah 51:13). Babylon also trusted in her walled city.
Three times the prophet mentions the walls of Babylon (see Jeremiah 51:12, 44, and 58). Babylon's walls have historic references due to their mass. The city of Babylon was encircled by double walls. The inner wall was known as "Imgur-Enlil" and was constructed of mud brick. This wall was 21 feet thick and had 100 towers along it at intervals of sixty feet. Twenty three feet outside the inner wall was the outer wall known as the "Nimit-Enlil." This outer wall was 12' thick making the total defensive wall a whopping 57 feet. Sixty five feet outside the outer wall was a moat that was linked to the Euphrates on the North and South sides of the city (ISBE Volume 1 page 386).
None of the things Babylon trusted in would save them. Jeremiah writes, "The wall of Babylon shall fall." There was no nation, deity, or structure of man that had the power to keep Jehovah from his objectives. The Lord said, "Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify the height of her strength, yet from me shall destroyers come unto her, saith Jehovah" (Jeremiah 51:53). Babylon's deities would be put to shame (Jeremiah 51:44, 47). Isaiah writes of her idolatry saying, "1 Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth; their idols are upon the beasts, and upon the cattle: the things that ye carried about are made a load, a burden to the weary beast. 2 They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity" (Isaiah 46:1-2).
Babylon Falls at the Hands of the Medes and Persians
The Lord determined to punish Babylon as all other nations who walked in wickedness (Jeremiah 25:12; 50-51; 50:14). The Lord would bring the Medes and Persians against Babylon and they would be conquered (Jeremiah 51:11; Daniel 5:24-28). Isaiah writes, "17 Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, who shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. 18 And their bows shall dash the young men in pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. 19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldeans' pride, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah" (Isaiah 13:17-19).
Cyrus, a Persian military leader, defeated the Medes and brought the Medo- Persian Empire together at 509 BC. Cyrus took the city of Babylon in 500 – 495 BC giving it to Darius the Mede (see Daniel 5:31). Jehovah had made known the fall of Babylon approximately one hundred and fifty years before it would actually happen. Isaiah went as far as even naming Cyrus over a hundred years before he would be born (Isaiah 44:28).
Cyrus defeated Babylon in what is known in history as the Battle of Opis. The famed walls of Babylon were indeed impenetrable with the only way into the city through one of its many gates or through the Euphrates which ebbed beneath its thick walls. Metal gates at the river's in-flow and out-flow prevented underwater intruders, if one could hold one's breath to reach them. Cyrus (or his generals) devised a plan to use the Euphrates as the mode of entry to the city, ordering large camps of troops at each point and instructed them to wait for the signal. Awaiting an evening of a national feast among Babylonians Cyrus' troops diverted the Euphrates river upstream, causing the Euphrates to drop to about 'mid thigh level on a man' or to dry up altogether (Daniel 5). The soldiers marched under the walls through the lowered water. The Persian Army conquered the outlying areas of the city's interior while a majority of Babylonians at the city center were oblivious to the breach (see Wikipedia on the Battle of Opis).
God's Purpose Accomplished
The "purpose" of God was accomplished against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:29).
There are three lessons that we may learn from a study of Babylon.
John C Robertson