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"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!

Chapter 11

Previews of Babylon's Fall

DURING the seventy-year desolation of Jerusalem, or in the year 601-600 B.C., there was born in the Median Empire a man who came to be called Darius the Mede. We take note of his birth at this time, because we are to hear more about him later on.

Among the Jewish exiles in Babylonia under Nebuchadnezzar was the prophet Ezekiel. In 593 B.C., in the twenty-fifth year of his exile, he had his remarkable vision of a new temple of Jehovah and of an adjacent city called Jehovah-shammah, meaning "Jehovah Himself Is There." (Ezekiel 40:1 to 48:35) This vision must have been of great comfort to the repentant Jewish exiles. In the midst of a land of pagan idolatry it strengthened their hope of again worshiping the true God, Jehovah, at his temple.

Two years after the temple vision Ezekiel gave a final prophecy concerning King Nebuchadnezzar. This king of Babylon was still carrying on as the executional servant of Jehovah God and was making the nations drink the symbolic cup of the wine of Jehovah's rage. For twelve years Nebuchadnezzar had carried on a siege of the commercial city of Tyre. Although he established control over it, he failed to take its vast wealth. But for this executional service against Tyre, Nebuchadnezzar was to be rewarded with the conquest of Egypt with all its wealth for him to plunder. This meant that he would extend the Babylonian Empire


over the land of Egypt itself. This he did in the year 588 B.C. — Ezekiel 29:17-20: Jeremiah 44:29, 30.

As for King Nebuchadnezzar's family affairs, his Median queen was named Amytis, and his oldest son was named Evil-merodach, who was to become his father's immediate successor. Of course, Nebuchadnezzar also had daughters, and it appears that the husbands of two of these were also to occupy the throne, as history worked out. One of these sons-in-law of Nebuchadnezzar was named Neriglissar and the other Nabonidus. According to the book Nabonidus and Belshazzar, by R. P. Dougherty (page 79), certain circumstances favor the view that Nabonidus married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar named Nitocris, who was the daughter of his Egyptian wife of the same name. By this Nitocris Nebuchadnezzar's favorite son-in-law Nabonidus had a son named Belshazzar. In this way Belshazzar was really a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar and a great-grandson of Nabopolassar, the founder of the last dynasty of Semite kings of Babylon. The table below sets out this dynasty of Neo-Babylonian kings corresponding to the table drawn up by Professor R. P. Dougherty:

Amel-Marduk (Evil-merodach) as the oldest son succeeded Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon's throne in 581 B.C. This king, though reportedly wicked, receives mention in the Bible as doing a kindness to the exiled Jewish


king whose line of descent was to run down to Joseph the foster father of Jesus Christ. We read: "It came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin the king of Judah, in the twelfth month [Adar], on the twenty-seventh day of the month [in 580 B.C.], Evil-merodach the king of Babylon, in the year of his becoming king, raised up the head of Jehoiachin the king of Judah out of the house of detention; and he began to speak good things with him, and then put his throne higher than the thrones of the kings that were with him in Babylon. And he took off his prison garments; and he ate bread constantly before him all the days of his life. As for his allowance, an allowance was constantly given him from the king, daily as due, all the days of his life." (2 Kings 25:27-30) Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah) had seven sons in Babylonia, including Shealtiel, whose nominal son Zerubbabel became governor of rebuilt Jerusalem. — 1 Chronicles 3:17-19; Haggai 1:1; 2:23; Ezra 5:1, 2; Matthew 1:12.

After reigning but two years King Evil-merodach was murdered by his brother-in-law Neriglissar. According to the inscriptions that have been found, this usurper of the throne spent most of his time in building operations and reigned four years. When he died, his son Labashi-Marduk, though not yet of age, succeeded him. He was a vicious boy, and within nine months he had his throat cut by an assassin. Nabonidus, who had served as Governor of Babylon and who had been Nebuchadnezzar's favorite son-in-law, now took the throne and had a fairly glorious reign till Babylon fell in 539 B.C. He was given to literature, art and religion. He is reported to have been the son of a priestess of the moon at Harran (Haran), which fact had endeared him to Nebuchadnezzar. Says The Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 2, page 441:

He was an enthusiastic religionist and antiquarian. He built and rebuilt many temples in the principal cities of his kingdom. Nabonidus' enthusiasm carried


him too far, for he attempted to centralize in Babylon the religion of the kingdom. In doing this he alienated the priesthood, and even aroused their active opposition. For throughout the history of Babylonia each city had its own patron deity, to which its temple was dedicated and its people devoted. The images and shrines of these various divinities were collected to Babylon. This act, with others of similar offense to the priests, paved the way for his downfall before a mightier power.

As regards the religiousness of the Babylonians, G. R. Tabouis says, in Nebuchadnezzar, page 387 (of English translation):

By the side of their depravity, the Babylonians were the most religious people of antiquity, and their morality and liturgy are among the most beautiful. For, surprising as it may seem, they had no morality apart from religion. Just as their religion prescribed their duties toward the gods, so it prescribed their duties towards other men. — Dhorme, La Religion Assyro-babylonienne, pages 220 ff.

For some reason religious Nabonidus did not choose to rule at Babylon. He set up a second capital for Babylonia at the oasis of Tema in Arabia. He left the control of the capital city Babylon largely to Nitocris his wife and to Belshazzar his son.* Since the Babylonians expected those who wielded sovereign power over them to be exemplars in reverencing the gods, Belshazzar as the king's son responded to the needs of their sanctuaries by making offerings of gold and silver and sacrificial animals. There are six cuneiform texts that have been discovered that run from the fifth year to the thirteenth year of the reign of his father Nabonidus that prove this fact. Belshazzar even paid the Babylonian religious tithe. Hence there is no question that he was interested in the gods of his nation. The cuneiform inscriptions reveal that he was a devotee of the gods, and his care for the upkeep of

* See Nabonidus and Belshazzar, chapter XI, entitled "Conjectural Reasons for Nabonidus' Stay at Tema." Also, Nebuchadnezzar, page 389 ¶4.

places of worship in Babylonia is to be looked upon as a proved matter.*

The archaeological evidence is at hand that the oldest son of the king of Babylon was likely to be entrusted with some measure of political responsibility before his father's reign ended. So it could occur that the oldest son, as crown prince, was raised to the position of coregent with his reigning father. There are cuneiform tablets that prove that Belshazzar issued orders and commands. His father, when absent from Babylon and down south in Tema, did not give up his kingship but held onto his position as first ruler of Babylonia, but, during his absence, crown-prince Belshazzar acted in an administrative capacity in the capital Babylon and thus was the second ruler in the land. His absent father entrusted sharûtam or the kingship, the kingdom, to him, in the third year of his reign. This may be the year referred to in Daniel 7:1, which calls Belshazzar "the king of Babylon" and goes on to say: "In the first year of Belshazzar the king of Babylon, Daniel himself beheld a dream and visions of his head upon his bed. At that time he wrote down the dream itself. The complete account of the matters he told."

In his prophetic dream Daniel saw the succession of earthly world powers from the Babylonian World Power down till the establishment of the kingdom of God. The world powers were pictured as four wild beasts, and Daniel saw the Ancient of Days, the King of the heavens, execute judgment on these world powers. Then Daniel says: "I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One.

* See Nabonidus and Belshazzar, chapter VIII, entitled "Belshazzar's Devotion to Babylonian Deities."

And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin."

This "son of man" was to have associates with him in the Kingdom. Hence, in the interpretation of the dream, Daniel was told that "the holy ones of the Supreme One will receive the kingdom, and they will take possession of the kingdom for time indefinite, even for time indefinite upon times indefinite." Then, after being told of the destruction of the final beastly world power, Daniel was given the further explanation: "And the kingdom and the rulership and the grandeur of the kingdoms under all the heavens were given to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One. Their kingdom is an indefinitely lasting kingdom, and all the rulerships will serve and obey even them." — Daniel 7:2-27.

In Daniel's dream the first beast, the one like a lion that had the wings of an eagle, pictured the Babylonian Empire, with its dynasty of kings from Nebuchadnezzar to Belshazzar. The second beast, which was like a bear that was raised up on one side and that was given the command: "Get up, eat much flesh," pictured the Medo-Persian Empire, with its line of rulers from Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian down through Darius III the Persian.*

Daniel 8:1 informs us that, "in the third year of the kingship of Belshazzar the king," the prophet Daniel had another prophetic vision. In it a male goat with a conspicuous horn between its eyes came from the west and defeated and trampled down a two-horned ram.

In explanation, this is what the angel Gabriel told Daniel: "The ram that you saw possessing the two

* For an explanation see "Your Will Be Done on Earth," chapter 8.

horns stands for the kings of Media and Persia. And the hairy he-goat stands for the king of Greece; and as for the great horn that was between its eyes, it stands for the first king [Alexander the Great]." So, by this vision also God foretold that the Medo-Persian World Power, the Fourth World Power of history, was to fall before the Fifth World Power, the Macedonian or Grecian Empire. * — Daniel 8:2-22.


Early in his reign King Nabonidus of Babylon entered into a defensive and offensive alliance with the Lydian Empire and Egypt against the rising power of Persia. We remember that his father-in-law Nebuchadnezzar as crown prince of Babylon had shared with the Medes and the Scythians in destroying the Assyrian capital, Nineveh, in 633 B.C. Two years later the Median king dealt the final blow to the Assyrian army by defeating it at Haran (Harran). He was thus able to take over all of northern Mesopotamia, whereas the king of Babylon held the lower Mesopotamian valley. The Median king also met the Lydians in Asia Minor and set up a common border between the Median Empire and the Lydian Empire.

The Persian kings who held territory to the east of the Persian Gulf were vassals to the Median Empire, but they held the province of Elam and its important city Anshan or Anzan. The Persian King Cyrus I, ruler of the city Anshan, had a son named Cambyses, who succeeded him to the throne. Cambyses I married Mandane, the daughter of Astyages, who succeeded to the throne of the Median Empire. Another daughter of the Median King Astyages was Amytis, and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon married her. It was in order to satisfy the homesickness of Amytis for the mountains

* See "Your Will Be Done on Earth," chapter 9.
Elam was also called Susiana by the classical geographers, from its capital city Susa, or Shushan.

of Media that Nebuchadnezzar built the world-famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

To the above-mentioned Persian King Cambyses I and his Median wife Mandane there was born the son named Cyrus (II). He thus had Persian and Median blood in him. Cyrus II succeeded his father Cambyses as king of Anshan, the Elamite city, and referred to himself as King of Anshan. Cyrus II soon revolted against vassalage to his Median grandfather, King Astyages. The revolt was successful. King Astyages was seized by the men of Cyrus II, and without a battle the Persians took the Median capital city, Ecbatana, in 550 B.C.

From then on, the Medes and the Persians followed the leadership of King Cyrus II and fought and served together unitedly. Cyrus then moved quickly westward, subduing the territory of the Median Empire as far as the eastern border of the Lydian Empire at the Halys River. Rich King Croesus of Lydia refused to accept the sovereignty of the Persian conqueror. So Cyrus defeated him in battle and took over the realm of Croesus and extended the Persian Empire to the Aegean Sea and the Hellespont or the Dardanelles, in 546 B.C. Cyrus was now ready to turn his attention to the Babylonian Empire. By conquering it he would overthrow the Semitic domination of the Middle East and set up Aryan or Japhetic domination under the headship of the Persians.

The danger to Babylon became critical first now. But more than 190 years before this the Jewish prophet Isaiah had foretold the final preparations that were to be made for overthrowing the Babylonian Empire, the Third World Power. Isaiah began prophesying in the name of Jehovah during the reign of King Uzziah of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 1:1) Since Uzziah died in 774 B.C., Isaiah was prophesying in the land of Judah when the first Olympiad on the celebration of the Grecian Olympic Games was recorded, which was in 776 B.C. Yes,


Isaiah was still prophesying when Rome was founded on the banks of the Tiber River, the traditional date for which is 753 B.C. When Isaiah was prophesying, it was in the days of the Second World Power, the Assyrian Empire, and Babylon was then the coming world power. Isaiah was inspired to foresee Babylon's rise to world domination and how she would destroy Jerusalem. As a consolation for Jehovah's people he also foresaw and foretold the crashing downfall of Babylonian World Power before the Medes and Persians.


(Isaiah 13)

In chapter thirteen of his prophecy Isaiah begins to mention Babylon by name, in these words: "The pronouncement against Babylon that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw in vision." This pronouncement came right after Isaiah foretold the deliverance of Jehovah's organization Zion, to whom Isaiah therefore said: "Cry out shrilly and shout for joy, O you inhabitress of Zion, for great in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 12:6: 13:1) Isaiah thus set Zion and Babylon in sharp contrast. Here he leads us into the events that would result in the deliverance of Zion from Babylon's cruel oppression. Micah, a contemporaneous fellow prophet of Isaiah, also set Zion and Babylon in sharp contrast, saying: "Be in severe pains and burst forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman giving birth, for now you will go forth from a town, and you will have to reside in the field. And you will have to come as far as to Babylon. There you will be delivered. There Jehovah will buy you back out of the palm of your enemies." (Micah 4:10) So in Isaiah's pronouncement against Babylon Jehovah God is really the Speaker. He signals to Babylon's enemies to come against her.

"Upon a mountain of bare rocks raise up a signal, you men. Lift up the voice to them, wave the hand, that they may come into the entrances of the nobles. I myself have issued the command to my sanctified ones. I


have also called my mighty ones for expressing my anger, my eminently exultant ones." — Isaiah 13:2, 3.

The ones whom Jehovah here commands to serve as his executional instruments against Babylon are the Medes and Persians and their allies from a number of other nations. In his own nation of Israel the Jewish warriors were sanctified religiously before undertaking a military campaign. Even in pagan nations the military campaigns were begun first with religious ceremonies. War was thus said to be sanctified. (Joel 3:9) So Jehovah sanctifies the Medes and Persians and their allies by giving them the sacred commission to overthrow Babylon's domination once and for all time in the ancient world. These military forces against Babylon are also mighty. They eminently exult at having the grand distinction of overturning Babylon, who made so many nations drink the cup of her anger.

Because they serve the purpose of Jehovah God against his great enemy Babylon, he calls them "my sanctified ones," "my mighty ones." Though worldly commanders and officers may be summoning them and gathering them, it is really the Almighty God of heaven who summons them at his due time. They must assemble to a definite signal.

What signal? It is the new world power, that of the Medes and Persians, which must displace the Babylonian World Power. This signal must stand out as a common ground on which to unite together. It must become as plain to the view as if it were a signal upon a bare rocky mountain with nothing to block the view of anybody and so visible from far away. Thus Jehovah God let Cyrus the Persian come to world prominence as a man who had to be dealt with and not to be left out of sight, the founder of the Persian monarchy.

Hand and voice must be used in inviting Jehovah's executioners to come to this lofty signal and also to urge them onward to the assault upon Babylon's gates, the entrances of her nobles. The capture of the en-


trances to the mightily walled Babylon and the getting of complete control of the city is what beckons Jehovah's sanctified ones. It was not his purpose for the captive Jews to do this.

The gathering of nations in support of those who are to be the founders of the Fourth World Power is in harmony with Jehovah's purpose. "Listen!" says the prophet Isaiah as if hearing the movement of international affairs just prior to 539 B.C. "A crowd in the mountains, something like a numerous people! Listen! The uproar of kingdoms, of nations gathered together! Jehovah of armies is mustering the army of war. They are coming from the land far away, from the extremity of the heavens, Jehovah and the weapons of his denunciation, to wreck all the earth."  — Isaiah 13:4. 5.

The end of the seventy years of desolation of Jerusalem, which was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, is getting near. Hence the time of battle against Babylon is also nearing. Jehovah of armies, whose temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon, is the invisible Commander-in-chief, and he maneuvers his earthly forces to express his denunciation upon Babylon. From lands far outside the Babylonian Empire, from places under the extreme parts of the heavens, he musters his earthly army of execution. This army, made up of elements from a number of nations,* he will use as the "weapons of his denunciation." By means of them he will wreck all the land of Babylon as a world power, and will topple from Babylon's throne the dynasty of world rulers that began with Nebuchadnezzar.

The day of Jehovah's triumph over Babylon is thus prepared for, and it is certain to arrive upon that oppressive, greedy world power. In appreciation of what this means for Jehovah's universal sovereignty and holy name and also for the liberation of Jehovah's cap-

* As regards these nations see pages 281-283 of this book.

tive people, Isaiah says to the Babylonians: "Howl, you people, for the day of Jehovah is near! As a despoiling from the Almighty it will come. That is why all hands themselves will drop down, and the whole heart itself of mortal man will melt. And people have become disturbed. Convulsions and birth pains themselves grab hold; like a woman that is giving birth they have labor pains. They look at each other in amazement. Their faces are inflamed faces." — Isaiah 13:6-8.

It was after subduing the powerful kingdom of Lydia and extending his sway across Asia Minor (now Turkey) that Cyrus the Persian with the Medes as his loyal allies turned his attention to Babylon. After about a year of preparation he moved against her in 539 B.C. The Babylonians he met on the field of battle, and they were obliged to flee into their walled cities, King Nabonidus taking refuge in Borsippa. It was a time for the Babylonians to howl, as Jehovah's day was very close now for them to drink the cup of defeat and subjugation that they had made Jerusalem and Judah and other nations drink. Babylon was to be despoiled of her world power. Such a thing, then unbelievable, was something at which to be amazed, something to inflame a proud Babylonian's face with embarrassment and give him pains like those of a woman at childbirth.

Babylon had been cruel to Jehovah's chosen people during the seven decades of Jerusalem's lying a desolate ruin. That the Almighty God of heaven should repay Babylon in kind was something due, that she deserved. The Babylonians were sinners against him and his temple. Now it was their turn to howl! "Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, in order to make the land an object of astonishment, and that it may annihilate the land's sinners out of it. For the very stars of the heavens and their constellations of Kesil will not flash forth their light; the sun will actually grow dark at its going forth, and the moon itself will not cause its light to


shine. And I shall certainly bring home its own badness upon the productive land, and their own error upon the wicked themselves. And I shall actually cause the pride of the presumptuous ones to cease, and the haughtiness of the tyrants I shall abase. I shall make mortal man rarer than refined gold, and earthling man rarer than the gold of Ophir. That is why I shall cause heaven itself to become agitated, and the earth will rock out of its place at the fury of Jehovah of armies and at the day of his burning anger." — Isaiah 13:9-13.

It was to be a dark day for Babylon, yes, a dark night. It was to be as if the moon and the stars and their constellations failed to shine in the heavens at their appointed times, increasing the blackness of the situation for Babylon as a world power. In fact, Babylon fell to the conquerors at night, October 5-6, 539 B.C. She had acted presumptuously against the Most High God who rules in the kingdom of mankind, as if she were strong enough to rule the earth forever. Her kings, princes and military officers had acted haughtily like tyrants, even toward Jehovah's exiled people. Now this was to cease. Babylonians of this sort were to become hard to find, as rare as refined gold at that time, even rarer than the prized gold of Ophir. The Semitic dynasty of Babylon's kings, pictured as the golden head in Nebuchadnezzar's dream image, was to pass away. (Daniel 2:32, 36-38) The heavens over Babylon, which the demonized imagination of the Babylonians filled with false gods like Bel and Merodach (Marduk), were to rock when the Babylonians found that these heavenly gods to whom they were so religiously attached were unable to help them. The earth of the Babylonian Empire was to rock out of its place when it ceased to belong to Babylon as the Third World Power and became merely a province in the Persian Empire.

"And," continues Jehovah by his prophet Isaiah, "it must occur that, like a gazelle chased away and like a


flock without anyone to collect them together, they will turn, each one to his own people; and they will flee, each one to his own land. Every one that is found will be pierced through, and every one that is caught in the sweep will fall by the sword; and their very children will be dashed to pieces before their eyes. Their houses will be pillaged, and their own wives will be raped."  — Isaiah 13:14-16.

Thus before Jehovah's executional forces, before the "weapons of his denunciation," all foreign support of Babylon was to crumble. Her supporters would dissociate themselves from her and flee to the interests of their own nations and to the new relationships that their nations would set up with the new world power. Everyone continuing to stick to Babylon and uphold her domination would be run through with the sword of execution. Every last one would be caught in the grand sweep or roundup of Babylon's hangers-on. Their lineage would be wiped out, their houses plundered, their wives having intercourse with the conquerors, not with their own husbands, the children bearing the family name being dashed to pieces by soldiers.

Of this happy assignment of execution upon Babylonians the exiled Jews had prophetically sung: "O daughter of Babylon, who are to be despoiled, happy will he be that rewards you with your own treatment with which you treated us. Happy will he be that grabs ahold and does dash to pieces your children against the crag." — Psalm 137: 8. 9.

Foretelling the very ones whom he would use as leaders in overthrowing the Babylonian World Power, Jehovah goes on to say through Isaiah: "Here I am arousing against them the Medes, who account silver itself as nothing and who, as respects gold, take no delight in it. And their bows will dash even young men to pieces. And the fruitage of the belly they will not pity; for sons their eye will not feel sorry." — Isaiah 13:17,18.


The expression "the Medes" in Isaiah 13; 17 must be understood as including the Persians.* Jehovah's naming of the Medes calls to mind, of course, Darius the Mede, who, according to Daniel 5:28, 31. "received the kingdom" after Babylon fell and was "divided and given to the Medes and the Persians." However, according to the ancient historian Herodotus (I, 95), a Median was the mother of Cyrus the Great. She was Mandane, the daughter of King Astyages, the ruler of the Median Empire. She was given in marriage to the Persian Cambyses I, the son of Cyrus I. The offspring of this marriage was named Cyrus, after his grandfather. Thus Cyrus II, the Persian, had Median blood in him. After he rebelled and conquered the kingdom of his grandfather Astyages, the Medes became his loyal allies and supporters in his military operations. Along with the Medes, the Elamites were also to take part in conquering Babylon, according to the words of Isaiah 21:2-9.

The Medes, including the Persians, were expert bowmen. Says The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 21, edition of 1911, page 207:

The chief weapon of the Persians, as of all Iranians, was the bow, which accordingly the king himself holds in his portraits, for example, on the Behistun rock and the coins (darics). In addition to the bow, the Persians carried short lances and short daggers. But it was not by these weapons, nor by hand to hand fighting, that the Persian victories were won. They overwhelmed their enemy under a hail of arrows, and never allowed him

* In an article entitled "The Last Days of Babylon," D. J. Wiseman, head of the Department of Western Asiatic Antiquities of the British Museum, describes the discovery of a stone monument, inscribed in Babylonian, which gives King Nabonidus' own account of events during his reign over Babylonia. In this monument, the Harran stele, King Nabonidus of Babylon makes reference to the king of the Medes in the year 546 B.C., which was some years before Cyrus the Great had absorbed the Median Empire. Quite properly, then, the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah refer to Babylon's conquerors as "Medes." Though Daniel's prophecy speaks of the kingdom of Darius the Mede, it does not mean an independent Median kingdom, with its capital at Ecbatana, after Babylon fell. Wiseman's article was published in Christianity Today, Volume II, No. 4, November 25, 1957.
Persian archers

to come to close quarters. When the infantry kneeled to shoot, the cavalry swarmed round the hostile squadrons, threw their lines into confusion, and completed their discomfiture by a vigorous pursuit. In a charge the infantry also might employ lance and dagger; but the essential point was that the archers should be mobile and their use of the bow unhampered.

... In spite of all their bravery, they succumbed to the Greek phalanx, when once the generalship of a Miltiades or a Pausanias had brought matters to a hand to hand conflict; and it was with justice that the Greeks  — Aeschylus, for instance — view their battles against the Persian as a contest between spear and bow. None the less, till Marathon the Persians were successful in discomfiting every enemy before he could close, whether the enemy consisted of similarly accoutred bowmen (as the Medes), of cavalry armed with the lance (as the Lydians), or of heavily armored warriors (as the Babylonians, Egyptians and Greeks).

To this should be added the superiority of their leaders; Cyrus especially must have been an exceedingly able general. Obviously, also, he must have understood the art of organizing his people and arousing the feeling of nationality and the courage of self-sacrifice. . . .

Since the bows of the Persians were made of metal, they could use them to dash enemy young men to pieces. What the Medes and the Persians were after was, not silver and gold, but conquest. They could not be bought off with such precious metals, but were pitiless in de-


stroying the enemy, the fruitage of Babylonian bellies.

What was to be the result of Jehovah's arousing of the bow-bearing Medes against the Babylonians? Jehovah's own decree declared the astonishing result, saying: "And Babylon, the decoration of kingdoms, the beauty of the pride of the Chaldeans, must become as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. She will never be inhabited, nor will she reside for generation after generation. And there the Arab will not pitch his tent, and no shepherds will let their flocks lie down there. And there the haunters of waterless regions will certainly lie down, and their houses must be filled with eagle owls. And there the ostriches must reside, and goat-shaped demons themselves will go skipping about there. And jackals must howl in her dwelling towers, and the big snake will be in the palaces of exquisite delight. And the season for her is near to come, and her days themselves will not be postponed." — Isaiah 13:19-22.

What a final degradation for Babylon! What a fall, indeed — from being the "decoration of kingdoms, the beauty of the pride of the Chaldeans," to being a desolation thought to be haunted, that superstitious wandering Arabs and shepherds would avoid!

To creatures inhabiting dry places, to owls, to ostriches, to goat-shaped demonlike creatures, to jackals, yes, to the big snake the ruins of fallen Babylon would be left! That big snake or dragon would not be a symbol meaning that Babylon's god Merodach (Marduk) was dwelling there as invisible ruler. It would be one of the features of the vengeance of Jehovah God upon that world-dominating center of false religion. Centuries might pass after Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C. before this utter desolation would overtake her, but it would inescapably come upon Babylon, just as fire and sulphur raining from heaven had


desolated wicked Sodom and Gomorrah. — Genesis 19: 23-25.

As the time for the seventy-year desolation of Jerusalem to end drew near, so the time or season for Babylon's decline to begin was also drawing near. The days for this to occur according to the time schedule of Jehovah God would not be postponed, for he keeps time. So, too, in our own modern day, the fall of the Greater Babylon to a similar horrifying desolation is not to be postponed.*


(Isaiah 21)

Nothing could be more certain than that Babylon, after holding world sway, must fall. To assure his people of that, Jehovah God, who does not lie, multiplied his prophecies concerning her fall, even long in advance. Babylon's fall became one of the dominating themes of his Holy Word, and down to near the close of the Bible this world-important theme is not dropped. When reading into the very last book of the Bible, we cannot get away from this theme. In Revelation 18:2 the stirring words, "Babylon the great has fallen," are but an echoing of the words called out by the watchman whom the prophet Isaiah heard in vision more than 825 years before the Christian apostle John had his vision that is recorded in the last book of the Bible. (Isaiah 21:9) With no uncertainty as to whom Jehovah his God will use in bringing about this astounding event of world history, Isaiah proceeds to say, under divine inspiration:

"The pronouncement against the wilderness of the sea: Like stormwinds in the south in moving onward, from the wilderness it is coming, from a fear-inspiring land. There is a hard vision that has been told to me:

* For some thoughts on the modern-day final and complete fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy upon Great Babylon, see the articles entitled "It Is Nearer than They Think" and "The Day of Jehovah upon This World," on pages 291-299 of The Watchtower, October 1, 1949.

The treacherous dealer is dealing treacherously, and the despoiler is despoiling. Go up, O Elam! Lay siege, O Media! All sighing due to her I have caused to cease."  — Isaiah 21 :1, 2.

Here the descriptive expression "the wilderness of the sea" refers to the region of ancient Babylon. In the cuneiform inscriptions of Mesopotamia, only southern Babylonia is called "the land of the sea." The city of Babylon lay on the lower Euphrates River, the eastern or right-hand part of the city being in the Mesopotamian valley between the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers, these two rivers finally joining to pour into the Persian Gulf. When these rivers overflowed, they converted southern Mesopotamia into a wilderness sea. To do away with this "sea" condition as a regular occurrence, or at least to reduce it, the Babylonians built up a grand series of dikes, sluices, canals and catch basins. However, in the Bible the word "sea" is sometimes used to mean the west. So in Isaiah 21:1 "the sea" may refer to west of the lands of Elam and Persia. The thought would be, then, that Babylonia to the west of Elam and Persia was to become a wilderness state, 'the wilderness of the west.'

A storm was brewing for Babylon, to strike her when she had reached the peak of her power. It was set stirring in a fear-inspiring land, that of Persia, when its king was the ambitious leader Cyrus II, who made himself also king of Media. Says The Britannica:

Modern authorities have often supposed that Cyrus and his ancestors were in reality Elamites; but this is contrary to all tradition, and there can be no doubt that Cyrus was genuine Persian and a true believer in the Zoroastrian religion. In Herodotus vii, II the genealogy of Cyrus is given in exactly the same way as in the proclamation of Cyrus himself; Teispes [greatgrandfather of Cyrus] is called here the son of the eponym Achaemenes. — The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 7, eleventh edition, pages 706, 707.


In his proclamation to the Babylonians Cyrus calls his ancestors, Teispes, Cyrus I and Cambyses I, by the title of "King of Anshan." This same title is given to Cyrus II himself in the cuneiform inscriptions and in the Chronicle of Nabonidus of Babylon before Cyrus defeated and deposed Astyages, king of Media. The land of Anshan was a district of Elam or Susiana and lay east of the Tigris River. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah 49:34-39. the Elamites were to suffer a defeat sometime after 617 B.C., and it is possible that Cyrus' great-grandfather Teispes the Achaemenian conquered the district of Anshan (or, Anzan) in 596 B.C., to the south of which district the Persians had earlier located themselves. Teispes assumed the title of "Great King, King of the City Anshan." In view of all the foregoing we can appreciate the association of the Persians with the Elamites as well as the Medes. The Elamites had their own Anshanite language and a system of writing, and their capital city was Shushan or Susa.

So this symbolic storm against Babylon came from a bad source, as from a fear-inspiring wilderness in the south. (Compare Job 1:19.) It is a hard vision that Isaiah is told against Babylon, but she deserves it. She will become a treacherous dealer and a despoiler, and such she will be against Jehovah's chosen people, the sons of Israel, Isaiah's own nation. By her overthrow Jehovah would cause the sorrow of those with whom she dealt treacherously to cease and joy to set in. To punish Babylon, Jehovah commands the Elamites and the Medes to go up and besiege her.

The effect that this hard vision had on Isaiah foreshadowed the effect that the vision's fulfillment was to have on the Babylonians and their lovers and supporters. To picture these, Isaiah says: "That is why my hips have become full of severe pains. Convulsions themselves have grabbed hold of me, like the convulsions of a woman that is giving birth. I have become


disconcerted so that I do not hear; I have become disturbed so that I do not see. My heart has wandered about; a shuddering itself has terrified me. The twilight for which I had an attachment has been made for me a trembling." (Isaiah 21:3, 4) The Babylonians would not enjoy sleeping then.

As if foreseeing the fatal night for which King Belshazzar's feast was arranged to celebrate the Babylonian festival, Isaiah addresses himself to the inhabitants of Babylon, especially the nobles of the city. He says: "Let there be a setting of the table in order, an arranging of the location of seats, an eating, a drinking! Get up, you princes, anoint the shield. For this is what Jehovah has said to me: 'Go, post a lookout that he may tell just what he sees.'" (Isaiah 21:5, 6) This being a prophecy in the form of a command, the prophecy must be fulfilled; the command must be obeyed.

On the night of October 5-6, 539 B.C., as history shows, there was feasting in Babylon, particularly at the palace of the king. But that same night the city fell to the Elamites, the Medes and the Persians. The Babylonian princes that night had to do one of two things, or both. First, they had to anoint the battle shield to defend the city. This proved to be in vain against the successful strategy of the besieging enemy. Then, as King Belshazzar was killed at the palace by the conquerors and thus the symbolical shield of the Babylonians was destroyed, it became necessary for the princes to anoint a new shield, install a new king. The new symbolic shield to be anointed should be the conqueror; otherwise, it would go hard with the Babylonian princes.

In obedience to the divine command to him, Isaiah in vision goes and posts a lookout, as it were upon the walls of Jerusalem. The lookout must tell just what he sees, for it will be of world importance. As if hearing what the watchman calls out to those below in Jerusalem, Isaiah says: "And he saw a war chariot with a span of steeds, a war chariot of asses, a war chariot of


camels. And he paid strict attention, with much attentiveness. And he proceeded to call out like a lion: 'Upon the Watchtower, O Jehovah, I am standing constantly by day, and at my guardpost I am stationed all the nights. And here, now, there is coming a war chariot of men, with a span of steeds!' " — Isaiah 21:7-9.

Had the watchman been a man upon the walls of Babylon in that year of world change, he would have literally seen advancing against the city the war machine of the conquerors symbolized by the "war chariot with a span of steeds, a war chariot of asses, a war chariot of camels." But before ever the lookout posted on Babylon's walls saw this in actuality, Jehovah's prophetic watchman saw it in miraculous preview. The great event to be announced was one to be waited for with constant watching and strict attention day and night, especially on the part of Jehovah's people, as Babylon was going to deal treacherously with them and despoil them. The prophet Daniel, in exile over seventy years, was one of these watching Jews, a fact that is disclosed in the following words by him:

"In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus of the seed of the Medes, who had been made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans; in the first year of his reigning I myself, Daniel, discerned by the books the number of the years concerning which the word of Jehovah had occurred to Jeremiah the prophet, for fulfilling the devastations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years. And I proceeded to set my face to Jehovah the true God." — Daniel 9:1-3.

Evidently the expression "war chariot" as describing what the watchman saw is to be taken in a collective sense, as denoting many of such chariots, a squadron.*

* The Jewish Publication Society of America's Bible translation of Isaiah 21:7 reads: "And when he seeth a troop, horsemen by pairs, a troop of asses, a troop of camels, he shall hearken diligently with much heed." Dr. Isaac Leeser's translation reads: "And he will see chariots, horsemen in couples, riders on asses, riders on camels: and he shall listen diligently with much heed." Ferrar Fenton's translation reads: "He saw a two-horsed chariot, a chariot ass, and camel car; he looked and looked a piercing look."

There are steeds to pull the war chariots swiftly into battle. There are also asses and camels with the besieging Elamites and Medes to serve as pack animals, beasts of burden to support these at the battlefront, if not also to carry warriors into the actual fight. Herodotus (I, 80) tells us that Cyrus' army had its baggage carried on camels, and that, in his campaign against King Croesus of Lydia, Cyrus put riders on these camels and thus used camels in fighting against Croesus' horses. It may be, however, that the two kinds of animals picture the two peoples whom Isaiah 21:2 tells to get up and besiege Babylon, the asses picturing the Elamites and the camels the Medes.

The man whom Isaiah sees in vision upon the watch-tower is evidently Jehovah's appointed watchman, for he reports to Jehovah that he stands guard and watches continually and he tells Jehovah what he sees. In this he provides an example worthy of imitation by Jehovah's watchman class of today who look for Babylon the Great to be destroyed. "And he began to speak up and say: 'She has fallen!' " Who has fallen? It is a city, denoted by the feminine pronoun she. But which city? Is it the city whose fall is desired by Jehovah's people, the city whose fall they expect according to Jehovah's prophecy? Listen, then, attentively as the watchman continues on to say: "Babylon has fallen, and all the graven images of her gods he has broken to the earth!" (Isaiah 21:9) What a grand announcement for the watchman to make!

The ancient Elamites and Medes did not go smashing the idol images of the conquered city. It was Jehovah who, in effect, broke down all the graven images of Babylon's gods to the ground, for he had proved that they were no gods, just helpless, lifeless images. He had proved that he himself was the only living and true God, the Almighty God, who had infallibly foretold the fall of the greatest ancient world power up to that time. Really he was the One who had caused Babylon to fall,


using the Elamites and Medes merely as his weapons against Babylon. According to 2 Chronicles 36:22. 23 and Ezra 1:1-3. victorious Cyrus gives Jehovah God the credit.

As the prophet Isaiah breaks out in his next words, he foretells both the terrible treatment, the symbolic threshing, that his people Israel is to receive at the cruel hands of Babylon and also the joy-inspiring comfort that his people is to get at the news of the thresher's fall. So it must have been with mingled feelings that Isaiah said: "O my threshed ones and the son of my threshing floor, what I have heard from Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, I have reported to you people." (Isaiah 21:10) It was Jehovah's threshing floor upon which the "son" or people who deserved being threshed was beaten and trodden down. They had persistently been rebellious and unfaithful to him, and he as their God and King used ancient Babylon to do the threshing for disciplining his people. But in his due time the threshing had to cease — at the fall of the threshing instrument. A faithful remnant of Israelites would survive the threshing! In like manner the faithful witnesses of Jehovah will survive the destruction of the Greater Babylon of our modern day.

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