Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for January, 2011

R. Scott Clark is no stranger of being the subject of our blog post.

I sometimes wonder if everything is okay with the man. Here is a man who teaches at a seminary and involved with Pastoral ministry who’s idea of selling his “Radical-Two-Kingdom-Confesssionalism-brand-of-what-it-means-to-being-Reformed” theology is by means of knocking the other guys with cheap shots and getting attention from the sensationalism.  I don’t know if it always has to be that way, nor do I know how much of this kind of activity would help advance his cause.  It’s hard to advance a cause by being a sour grape.  He has a history of throwing out criticisms that are unhelpful, comments which tend to shed more heat than light, even downright sloppy in his reasoning.

An example that comes to mind of this sort of writing  is his comparison of Doug Wilson with the cult leader of Jim Jones.

Or the sloppy reasoning behind his objection of John Frame’s Triperspectivalism.

In a recent post titled “Young, Restless and Resistant to Horton’s New Systematic Theology?”, the title suggests that the Young, Restless and Reformed” camp has been resistant to Michael’s upcoming Systematic theology.

He cites only two individuals as an example of this “Resistance”, than goes on to say

I wonder if the initial response by two of the leading Young, Restless, and Reformed bloggers says a little something about the YRR movement? Both of them were at pains to note that The Christian Faith is a “Presbyterian” book. That’s interesting because Horton deliberately pitched this work beyond the pale of the Presbyterian and Reformed world. To be sure, it is certainly written by a Reformed writer, Horton rightly has a strong doctrine of the church, and he comes to Reformed conclusions but the title of the book is The Christian Faith. He’s presenting the faith as confessed by the Reformed but he does so only after biblical exegesis and after wrestling with the Fathers and after getting to grips with the wider Christian tradition.

I overlooked the fact that two bloggers might be too small of a sample size but I did looked into the two evidences that Clark gave, Justine Taylor and Tim Challies, to see if there are any indication of any “resistance” going on but didn’t find any.  I thought these bloggers were favorable toward’s Horton’s work actually.

I don’t know why Clark would use the word “pains” to describe how the two bloggers mentioned that the book was written from a Presbyterian perspective.  It looks like they just simply noted the perspective Michael Horton was writing from.  Saying it’s a systematic theology from a Presbyterian perspective does not suddenly mean one is “resisting”  Horton’s new systematic theology, no more than if one were to  mention that Clark’s book “Covenant, Justification and Pastoral Ministry” is written from a Reformed perspective.  To reason that way is absurd, for even Clark himself identifies his book as one of “resources on the classical Reformed approach” towards Law and Gospel distinction.  Certainly he’s not against his work is he?  Also, wrongly identifying Horton’s work as “Presbyterian” does not mean one is against the work also.

Then Clark goes on to write, “That’s interesting because Horton deliberately pitched this work beyond the pale of the Presbyterian and Reformed world. To be sure, it is certainly written by a Reformed writer, Horton rightly has a strong doctrine of the church, and he comes to Reformed conclusions but the title of the book is The Christian Faith.”  One wonders how Michael Horton’s targeted audience to persuade those outside the Presbyterian and Reformed world makes it anything less than it coming from a Presbyterian and Reformed perspective. Clark himself admits where Horton lands in the conclusion found in the book.  Having the title  “The Christian Faith” doesn’t mean one can not identify the theological persuasion of the book, and again, identifying the book’s perspective  does not imply one is resisting the book.

So I am at a loss of how Clark could have titled the blog post with the title that he had, and to think that the “Young, Restless and Reformed” crowd are resisting Horton’s new systematic theology.  To be frank, I think it’s a little premature of Clark to say what he said since the book is so new, and even then his evidences does not vindicate his conclusion.

I say be “Young, Restless and Informed.”  And get Michael Horton’s Christian Faith (A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way) book and read it.

But if Clark keeps up his tactic, he might get the “Young, Restless and Informed” resisting his unfair whining and perhaps his Confessionalism with it.

Read Full Post »

Introduction

In Jeremiah’s oracle of the nations found in chapter 46 through 51, among the various nations addressed Babylon certainly received the largest amount of attention.  These prophecies against Babylon are found in chapters 50-51.  Robert P. Carroll has made the observation “these are almost as long (110 verses) as the material against the other nations in 46-49 (121 verses).”[1] Given Babylon’s importance in Jeremiah’s work, any study of Jeremiah must deal with the details of the prophecy of Babylon carefully.

It is the result of such a careful study of this passage that Charles Dyer believed that not everything mentioned about Babylon in Jeremiah 50-51 has yet been fulfilled.  The ramification of this has implication for eschatology.  On the basis of his observation of the text, Dyer believed that there will be a future existence of a literal Babylon that awaits destruction according to the details of Jeremiah’s prophecy.  In fact, Dyer believed it is highly probable that Babylon will have a role in the End Times if one further studied the issue in conjunction with other Scriptural passages.  Dyer’s has presented his view in print in a book titled The Rise of Babylon.[2] Given that the book’s primary audience are Evangelical lay people, further arguments can still be developed in pushing his view forward.  This essay seeks to contribute to Dyer’s position with further technical details.  Rather than rehash the same argument and evidence in this essay of what Dyer has already proposed, the purpose of this essay will make further observation of Jeremiah 50 through 51 on the basis of the Hebrew text and then contribute additional historical and archaeological evidences that support his thesis that the predictions in Jeremiah 50-51 have not all been fulfilled.  While this essay could stand alone apart from The Rise of Babylon, it is best to read this as reinforcing the biblical argument and extra-biblical evidences found in Dyer’s work.

Some note of caution is necessary here.  In suggesting that there are prophecies in Jeremiah 50 and 51 that have not been fulfilled, this does not imply that the Scripture is errant.  Rather, in light of the Evangelical commitment to inerrancy, these prophecies are expected to be fulfilled literally eventually in the future.  In addition, by saying that there are prophecies not yet fulfilled, this does not imply that there are not instances found in Jeremiah 50 through 51 that seems to have been fulfilled already. The description of the capture of Babylon is mentioned in Jeremiah 50:2, and this capture is predicted to be the act of a nation (50:3a) or nations (50:9) coming from the north.  In the next chapter, Jeremiah goes on to identify the specific identity of this nation, leaving no room for speculation what that nation would be.  Jeremiah 51:28 recognizes the agent of Babylon’s capture to be the Medes.  Historically it did turn out that the Medes invaded Babylon, as the Scripture attests in Daniel 5:31 and collaborated by other extra-biblical historical documents.

In what follows, this essay will evaluate three key predictions of Babylon found repeatedly throughout Jeremiah 50-51.  Next, this essay will explore several lines of evidences concerning the history of Babylon which indicates the three key predictions have not been fulfilled to this very day.

Key predictions

Walls will be torn down

There are three passages in Jeremiah that discusses the wall of Babylon being taken down.  In Jeremiah 50:15 there is a reference alluding to the walls of Babylon: “Her walls are overthrown.”  According to the context, the immediate subject of the pronominal suffix “her” is Babylon.  The wall of Bablyon is described in the Hebrew as נֶהֶרְסוּ.  It is a Niphal Perfect third person plural verb of הָרַס.  According to Holladay, the meaning of the verb means “demolished.”[3] Munderlein has noted the verb is used for “tearing down,” and this meaning is supported by several instances in the Old Testament when it is used as the opposite of “build.”[4]

Jeremiah 51:44 is another statement about the walls of Babylon coming down.  In a verse that begins with the statement of how God was punishing the Babylonian god Bel, Jeremiah testified that “Even Babylon’s wall has fallen down.”  Whereas previously in Jeremiah 50:15 the Hebrew verb נֶהֶרְסוּ was used to describe the destruction of the walls of Babylon, here the verb is נָפָלָה.  While the verb’s general meaning is “fall”, when the verb is used to described what has happened to structural building it has the idea of collapse as evident with it’s usage with tent in Judges 7:13 and walls in 1 Kings 20:30.[5]

Surprisingly, the phrase translated as “Even Babylon’s wall has fallen down” from the Hebrew גַּם־חֹומַת בָּבֶל נָפָלָה in Jeremiah 51:44 is missing from the Greek Septuagint.[6] The Jewish textual critic Emmanuel Tov believed that this phrase was a later addition to the text, reasoning that the Hebrew vorlage used by the translators of the Septuagint must have been a shorter first edition of Jeremiah and that the Masoretic text’s version of Jeremiah was a second edition that was filled with additional post-exilic vaticinium ex eventu materials.[7] Tov’s reasoning for his conclusion should caution any Evangelical Old Testament textual critic, especially with his operating precommitment of assuming vaticinium ex eventu.  In addition, it is begging the question to say that the Masoretic text was prophesying of events that already occur when it is not a given of whether it has happened already.  Moreover, since only the Septuagint is the one family of ancient translation that omits this phrase and other ancient translations bears witness to the reading of the Masoretic text, and in light of the fact that there are serious problem with the Septuagint’s transmission of Jeremiah such as being faithful to the order of Jeremiah[8] coupled with the absence of any significant variants of the rest of this verse among other Masoretic texts according to the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia’s Textual Critical Apparatus, it is best to adopt גַּם־חֹומַת בָּבֶל נָפָלָה as part of the original reading.  It is also the more difficult reading, and the canons of textual criticism dictates the Masoretic text should be the preferred reading over against the Septuagint’s reading.[9] The omission on the part of the translators of the Septuagint must have arisen from their knowledge that the walls of Babylon were still not destroyed between the second and first century B.C. and the variant was probably an attempt to make the text be compatible with contemporary realities.[10]

These two verses alone are enough to indicate that Babylon’s city walls will be destroyed but more details can be found in Jeremiah 51:58: “The broad wall of Babylon will be completely razed, and her gates will be set on fire.”  The walls of Babylon here is described as “broad.”  How broad were the walls of Babylon?  According to Huey, the ancient city walls of Babylon were wondrous: “The outer wall was twelve feet thick, and the inner wall was twenty-one feet thick with twenty-three feet separating them.”[11] Using another verb to describe what will happen to Babylon’s walls, Jeremiah 51:58 states that these walls will be in Huey’s words, “leveled.”[12] The broad walls seem to be referring to the city’s walls.  Apparently, the gates of the city walls will be burned during the event of it being taken down.  This gives some indication that one of the means for the destruction of the walls of Babylon and Babylon itself will include fire.

Burned

In Jeremiah 50:40 the prophecy of Bablyon’s destruction makes the comparison with that of the destruction of Sodom and Gommorah.  Carroll notes, “so great will be Babylon’s devastation that the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24-25, 28) comes to mind as the best analogy of it.”[13] In Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands A Verdict, he writes that while “Babylon would be destroyed and become as Sodom and Gomorrah…it does not predict destruction in the same manner as Sodom and Gomorrah.”[14] While it is true that the fate of Babylon according to Jeremiah 50:40 describes the fate of Babylon to be similar with that of Sodom and Gomorrah in that these three cities will be abandoned by their human occupants, other verses in Jeremiah 50-51 seem to indicate that the method of destruction by fire will be similar as well.  It is this picture of Sodom and Gomorrah with “fire on the cities, obliterating them and all the valley around” that Thompson believes Jeremiah 50:40 is painting.[15]

Fire has been explicitly predicted to be one of ways Babylon will be destroyed.  As stated earlier, Jeremiah 51:58 teaches that “her high gates will be set on fire.”  The Hebrew word for fire, אֵשׁ, is used here and the Qal verb form of יצת here should be translated according to Holladay as “burn up.”[16] What are predicted to be “burned up” are the high gates of Babylon, a clear reference to the gates of the city wall.

The fiery destruction of Babylon will not be limited to just the high gates of the city wall but will extend itself into the city.  According to Jeremiah 51:30, “Their dwelling places are set on fire.”  Once again, a verbal root of יצת appears in this verse and indicates the burning that will occur.  The subjects of the pronominal suffix in the immediate context are the mighty men of Babylon (v.30).  This verse also informs the readers that the city bars would be broken into, which explains how the dwelling place of the warriors within the city of Babylon manage to get incinerated.

The burning of Babylon appears to go beyond Babylon and into nearby city as well.  Speaking from the perspective of God, Jeremiah 50:32 states, “I will set fire to his cities…”  It seems that other urban areas under Babylonian control will share in the similar fate as Babylon.

God describes the result of Babylon’s burning destruction in Jeremiah 51:25:  “And I will make you a burnt out mountain.”  Literally in the Hebrew, Babylon will be “a mountain of burning.”[17] Keown, Scalise and Smothers have noted that “Babylon was situated in a flat plain.”[18] As a result, Huey concluded, “The description could not be literal because Babylon was on a plain.”[19] One needs to be careful of what they rule as literal and not literal when it comes to biblical prophecy.  A literal interpretation might not be as easily ruled out as Huey believes.  To begin with, the range of the semantic of the Hebrew word הַר is definitely mountain, mountain ranges or hill.[20] Certainly the “burning” part to Jeremiah 51:25 can be accepted as literal in light of the other burning references in Jeremiah.  If the burning is seen as literal then it is a strongly possibility that “mountain” should be understood literally as well.  A better explanation than the one Huey arrived at would be that the burnt remains of Babylon will become a burnt mound of some sort.  The remains of Babylon as an abandoned mound or “hill” of some sort does receives several mention throughout Jeremiah 50-51.  It might have something to do with the fact that the ruins of Babylon gets piled up.  Jeremiah 50:26 records God saying to Babylon, “Pile her up like heaps.”  Then in Jeremiah 51:37, God says, “Babylon will become a heap of ruins.”

Taking all the above biblical data into consideration, the scene of Babylon’s destruction is that of an epic battle with the warriors of Babylon losing, the city infiltrated into and fire used to burn the city gates and homes.  The burning destructive force is so great it spills over to other Babylonian controlled cities.  Babylon itself will become a burnt mountain afterwards.

Abandoned

If Babylon’s destruction will result in her becoming a burnt mountain, it definitely sounds like the destruction was total.  With such devastation, it is not hard to imagine that survivors would abandon the wreckage of Babylon.

This total destruction and abandonment of Babylon is not only drawn by implication from the previous biblical data, it is also explicitly taught throughout Jeremiah 50-51.  The reason one would expect Babylon to be abandoned is because Jeremiah 50:26 uses languages to indicate the destruction was total with phrases such as “utterly destroy her” and “let nothing be left to her.”  Jeremiah 50:39-40 teaches that no one will live there after the destruction with the following phrases: “And it will never again be inhabited,” “No man will live there, nor will any son of man reside in it.”

Jeremiah 51:29 also speaks of Babylon being destroyed to such an extent that there will not be any inhabitants.  In 51:37, Jeremiah pronounces the fact that Babylon has turned into “an object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants.”  It will be a place of “perpetual desolation” with “nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast” according Jeremiah 51:62.  According to 51:43, not only will no one reside in Babylon, the extent of her abandonment reaches the point “through which no son of man passes.”  People traveling will not even take routes around its land.

The duration of this abandonment has been described in the last clause of Jeremiah 50:39: “And it will never again be inhabited or dwelt in from generation to generation.”  The Hebrew word used for “generation” is דֹּור.  According to Freedman and Lundbom, “Like other ancient peoples, the early Hebrew dated long periods by lifetimes.”[21] Concerning what the lengths were of one generation, there is some ambiguity.  Botterweck has observed how there were “two different ideas concerning the length of a dor: a longer period of 100 years, and a shorter period of 30.”[22] One should also note “that the Hebrews began with the son and not the father in counting generations.  The sons (banim) are the first generation; the grandsons (bene bhanim) the second, followed by the third (shilleshim) and fourth (ribbe‘im) generation (Ex. 34:7).”[23] What is definitely certain is the fact that Babylon has been predicted to be destroyed to such an extent that there will not be one generation after another dwelling in it (“generation to generation”).  The phrase “generation to generation”, which in Hebrew is ד־דֹּור וָדֹור, is probably better translated as “forever” like the Hebrew word “olam…the two terms are often found in parallelism” such as in Joel 3:20.[24] Thus, the duration of Babylon’s abandonment shall be forever according to Jeremiah 50:39.

Fulfilled?

Having surveyed three of Jeremiah’s prediction, the logical question is whether these matters have already come to pass and if so, when.  Has the walls of Babylon been destroyed?  When was the city torched and never again to have any residence?  What does the evidence of history indicate?

In evaluating when these events occurred in history, Thompson came to the following conclusion under his comments on Jeremiah 51:26:  “The fact that historically Cyrus entered Babylon without any appreciable resistance and left the city intact is quite contrary to the description of devastation that appears in v.26, so that the verse, as well as others in chs. 50 and 51, must come from a period before the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus.”[25] However, the events of Jeremiah 50-51 could not have happened before Cyrus, since the book of Daniel reveals otherwise.  Daniel was a court official in Babylon beginning with the first wave of the Babylonian captivity and lived his life there until the reign of King Cyrus.  Thompson’s view is problematic because if Jeremiah 50-51 has already happened before King Cyrus entrance into Babylon, then in light of the observation from the Hebrew text above there would have been no Babylon for Cyrus to peacefully enter into, no residence to greet him since it would have been abandoned and nothing there for Cyrus but heaps of ruins.  Logically, Jeremiah’s fulfillment must come after Cyrus’ entrance into Babylon and not before.

History attests that Babylon survived beyond the Medes-Persian era though this history might not be as familiar to as many as it should be.  According to Bill Arnold, it would survive for another one thousand years after Cyrus II first took over Babylon:  “When Cyrus II captured Babylon without a fight in October 539, its people welcomed him as a liberator.  The Persian capture of Babylon ended the last native Semitic empire in ancient Mesopotamia…For the next millennium, Indo-Europeans would dominate Babylonia.”[26]

Not only was Babylon still inhabited during the Persian and Hellenistic period, but its great city walls were still standing according to Classical sources.  The famous fifth century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus claimed to have visited Babylon and described how the city walls were still standing:  “The outer wall is the main defense of the city.  There is, however, a second inner wall, of less thickness than the first, but very inferior to it in strength.”[27]

Two Greek sources, Arrian of Nicomedia’s Anabasis of Alexander III. 16.3 and Curtius Rufus V 1.19-23 both record how Alexander the Great’s “invasion” in 331 B.C. of Babylon were met with joyous celebration and festivity thrown by the citizens of Babylon upon their arrival.[28] Rather than wiping out the people and making Babylon desolate, the army of Alexander the Great had a welcomed stay for 34 days according to Curtius V 1:39, due to the people’s friendliness towards the Greek army as Diodorus XVII 64.4 records.[29] It is clear that Alexander the Great was not the one who brought Jeremiah 50-51 to fulfillment.

After Alexander the Great untimely death, the various Greek generals and their line fought battles in which the control of Babylon juggled back and forth with the various Greek powers for the next few centuries.  To summarize Boiy’s study of the primary sources concerning the condition and history of Babylon during the Achaemenid[30] and Hellenistic period,

On the Basis of a few classical sources it was for a long time communis opinion that the Achaemenid king Xerxes destroyed Babylon’s main temple Esagil.  It was also thought that the city ceased to exist shortly after the beginning of the Hellenistic period because Seleucus I founded a new capital in the vicinity, Seleucia-on-the-Tigris, and deported the complete population of Babylon—minus a few priests to continue the cult of Bel in Babylon—to the new metropolis.  Thanks to the publication of several cuneiform tablets dating from the Hellenistic period it is now clear that Babylon was also in the Hellenistic period still a flourishing city.[31]

The cuneiform texts which Boiy alluded to reveal more than the existence of Babylon, it also revealed that this era did not witness the fulfillment of other prophecies found in Jeremiah 50-51.  The Babylonian Astronomical Diary 3 -124A: ‘rev.5’ alludes to the continual existence of Babylon’s city walls, when it gave an account of Arab raiders which made a hole on the Babylonian’s city wall near the neighborhood of the Zabba gate around July/August 125/4 B.C.[32] These preserved cuneiform Astronomical Diaries cover a wide span of time but ends in 61 B.C.[33]

Babylon continued to exist beyond the last written entry in the Astronomical Diaries. The existence of Bathyrans in Israel during the reign of Herod in Israel contributes to our knowledge that there were still people in Babylon during the transition between the B.C. and A.D. era.  According to Jacob Neusner, “The Bathyrans were Babylonian Jewish immigrants who came at the time of Herod and settled in frontier regions, northeast of the Sea of Galilee, to protect the border.  They founded the town of Bathyra, hence the name.  Herod put some of them into the Temple hierarchy.”[34]

Gleaming through Jewish rabbinical literature, it provides another indirect witness of Babylon’s populated existence during the time of Herod and Christ’s early years of life.  According to the Palestinian Talmud, the famous Rabbi Hillel was from Babylon.  Hillel was a near contemporary of Jesus, who lived most of his life before Jesus and became historically significance for being a Rabbi whose interpretation later became an important Rabbinic school.  His Rabbinic school would later govern the Jews in the post-Temple destruction 70 A.D. era.  In the Palestinian Talmud’s Gemara[35], a record of Hillel’s origin is mentioned in a passage concerning the Passover and the Sabbath:

On one occasion the fourteenth of Nisan fell on the Sabbath, and they forgot and did not know whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not.  Said they, “Is there any many who knows whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not?”  They were told, “There is a certain man who has come up from Babylonia, Hillel the Babylonian by name, who served the two greatest men of the time, and he knows whether the Passover overrides the Sabbath or not.”[36]

Evidence beyond the third century of Babylon’s existence does get a little difficult.  There is still testimony of Babylon’s existence during the first half of the fifth century A.D.  In his Commentarii in Isaiam V 13.20, Theodoretus writes of how during his day Babylon still had a few inhabitants which were primarily Jewish.[37] Archaeologically, Aramic incantation bowls dating around 600 A.D. have been found.[38]

Understanding the situation of Babylon from the seventh century A.D. onwards requires one to take into consideration that the world surrounding Babylon at that time was changing since Mesopotamia would become heavily Islamic.  Therefore any sources on Babylon at this time would likely be Arabic in origin.  This is usually the stopping point for most studies considering the legacy of Babylon, as one writer puts it, “Few accounts, however, include the Arabic accounts.”[39] Compounding this difficulty is the fact that many Arabic texts referencing Babylon have not been translated into English.

In the first Arabic Islamic geographical road book that has survived, the Kitab al-Masalik Wa’l-mamalik, the geographer Abu’l-Qasim ‘Ubayd Allah Ibn Hurdadbih (820-826 A.D.) gives some description of the Abbasid empire during his lifetime which makes reference to the irrigation district of Babylon.[40] The Arabic usage of the term “Babil” has more than one range of meaning in that it can refer to Babylon, the area surrounding Babylon and also Babylonia.  If Babylon still existed, a comparison of this irrigation district with the other five sister irrigation districts reveal that Babylon might have been a significantly populated area compared to the other areas since their district were taxed more than the other districts in terms of wheat, barley and money according to official documents at that time.[41] However, one should be cautious in assuming that Babylon still remained as a population center since the tendency of previous primary sources seems to suggest a gradual depopulation and migration away from Babylon has already begun for centuries.  The name for the district as Babylon might have been retained given the proximity and the prestige Babylon once had in that district.

By the tenth century A.D. however, it becomes clear that Babylon was no longer populated.  Arabic road books suddenly stop talking about the city of Babylon as a present reality but something of the past.  For instance one of the Persian geographers of this time, Abu Ishak Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al-Karhi,[42] describe Babylon in this fashion:

Babil would be but a small village, were it not the oldest construction of al-‘Iraq.  That iqlim (Babil) is named after it because of its antiquity, for the Canaanite kings and others used to reside there.  Here are the remnants of a construction whose outer appearance suggests it was an important capital (misr) in the days of old.[43]

Ibn Hawqal, who was the heir of Al-Karhi’s work during the tenth century also described Babylon as a city of the past in which remains of her glory days are still visible: “In Babil are the remnants of a construction of which is reported that it was in the days of old a large capital.”[44] These tenth century documents demonstrates that while there are gaps in the historical data in explaining the exact time and cause of Babylon’s decline, the anti-climatic abandonment of Babylon is not the same dramatic devastating end prophesied in Jeremiah 50-51.  The decline of Babylon is so anti-climatic that it escapes the attention of it’s contemporary historical writers.  If the Word of God is true, it is possible that a future Babylon still waits for its destruction as described in Jeremiah.

Coming to the days of modern archaeological studies of Babylon, the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey is credited as the first archaeologist to study Babylon.  His work is still highly regarded and given the unstable political climate of the region from World War I onwards, further archaeological studies have been severly limited.  His works remains to this day the most detailed study of Babylon.  Koldewey “opened his first trenches at Babylon on March 26, 1899, and continued to dig there every year until 1912.”[45] During the excavation Koldewey discovered a shift in archaeological paradigm when it comes to excavating Babylon as compared with ancient Greek remains, which he described in his own words: “To those accustomed to Greece and its remains, it is a constant surprise to have these mounds pointed out as ruins.  Here are no blocks of stones, no columns; even in excavation there is only brickwork.”[46] While it was true that “with the weathering of time, the mud bricks had literally become mud again after the buildings of the city was abandoned,” Koldewey’s workmen “uncovered literally miles and miles of mud-brick walls” due to the good fortune that “the stratification of the various buildings were relatively easy to identify, simply because the builders inscribed their bricks with their names.”[47] Not only were bricks upon bricks found but Koldewey also discovered “walls decorated with huge reliefs of dragons and bulls that stand thirty feet high even today.”[48] This is far from the fulfillment of Babylon’s walls being destroyed and taken down. According to Boiy in 2004, “The first eye-catcher on the map of Babylon is the outer wall on the east bank, the so-called ‘Osthaken.’  Remains of this wall are still visible in the landscape.”[49] The walls of Babylon still remain standing, and Jeremiah’s prophecies about her walls is at a stand still and is waiting for a future fulfillment.

Surprisingly, some of the archaeological discovery of Babylon survived in a good and durable state.  For instance Koldewey’s 1899 excavation revealed walls filled with glazed bricks on either side of Babylon’s Procession street, and the pavements of red and white marble flagstones on asphalt were also found.[50] The most incredible discovery during all the years of Koldewey’s excavation was the famous Ishtar gate, found in 1902.  It stood over forty feet high, and experts estimated that before it’s ruin it must have had at least five hundred and seventy five bulls and dragons decorated horizontally on it, of which one hundred and fifty two of these figures survived and still on the gate.[51] What’s incredible is the fact that these remains go back to the time of Nebuchadnezzar and visitors to the German museum viewing the original Ishtar Gates will find no hint of destructive burning on them.  Nor are there any indications of destructive fiery destruction on the authentic ruins in Babylon itself.[52]

Conclusion

This paper has demonstrated how Jeremiah 50-51 predicts Babylon’s final destruction will include her city walls taken down, the city itself to be destroyed into a burning heap or mountain of fire, and how she will be abandon from having any inhabitants forever.  Since the walls of Babylon still stand today, having yet for the whole city to be totally destroyed by fire and since there are currently a large international military force residing in Babylon which has become a Division headquarters, it seems that there will be a future literal Babylon that will one day rise again to have it’s destruction according to Jeremiah be fully fulfilled.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Arnold, Bill T. “Babylonians.” In Peoples of the Old Testament World, edited by Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly and Edwin M. Yamauchi, 43-75.  Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994.

 

Boiy, T. Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon. Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental studies, 2004.

 

Botterweck, G.J. “דֹּור.”  In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.  14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:174. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.

 

Carroll, Robert P. Jeremiah: A Commentary. The Old Testament Library.  Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986.

 

Champdor, Albert. Babylon.  Translated by Elsa Coult.  New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1958.

 

Dyer, Charles H. The Rise of Babylon: Signs of the End Times. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991.

 

Fagan, Brian M. Return to Babylon: Travelers, Archaeologists, and Monuments in Mesopotamia.  Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1979.

 

Freedman, D.N. and J. Lundbom. “דֹּור.”  In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:173-181. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.

 

Freedman, H. Pesahim: Translated into English with notes, glossary and indices. The Talmud.  London: The Soncino Press, 1938.

 

Keown, Gerald L., Pamela J. Scalise and Thomas G. Smothers. Jeremiah 26-52. WBC. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995.

 

Holladay, William L.  A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament.  Grand Rapids:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988.

 

Huey Jr., F.B. Jeremiah Lamentations. NAC.  Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993.

 

Janssen, Caroline.  Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine.  Ghent, Belguim: University of Ghent, 1995.

 

Neusner, Jacob. From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism.  Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003.

 

McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992.

 

Munderlein, G. “הָרַס.” In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. 14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:461-463. Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.

 

Talmon, S. “הַר.”  In Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.  14 volumes.  Edited by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry.  Translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:427-447.  Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978.

 

Thompson, J. A. The Book of Jeremiah. NICOT.  Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980.

 

Tov, Emanuel. Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. 2nd revised edition. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001.

 

___________.  The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research. 2nd edition. Jerusalem: Simor Ltd., 1997.

 

Ziegler, Joseph ed. Jeremias, Baruc, Threni, Episula Ieremiae. Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976.


[1] Robert P. Carroll, Jeremiah: A Commentary, The Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986), 814.

[2] Charles H. Dyer, The Rise of Babylon: Signs of the End Times, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991).

[3] William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 84 (הָרַס 1).

 

[4] G. Munderlein, “הָרַס” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:461-463. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 462.

 

[5] Holladay, Lexicon, 196 (נָפָל 4).

 

[6] Gerald L. Keown, Pamela J. Scalise and Thomas G. Smothers, Jeremiah 26-52, WBC (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 357.

[7] Emanuel Tov, The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research, 2nd edition

(Jerusalem: Simor Ltd., 1997), 47.

 

[8] The Septuagint version of Jeremiah moves the oracle of the nations into the middle of Jeremiah rather than in the end as one can see in their English Bible.

 

[9] This principle is discussed in further details in Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, 2nd revised edition (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 302-305.

 

[10] The evidence that the walls of Babylon were not destroyed during this time shall be presented below.

 

[11] F.B. Huey Jr., Jeremiah Lamentations, NAC (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1993), 427.

[12] Ibid.

 

[13] Carroll, Jeremiah, 832.

[14] Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), 306.

 

[15] J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, NICOT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 745.

[16] Holladay, Lexicon, 141 (יצת 2).

[17] Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, 757.

[18] Keown, Jeremiah 26-52, 370.

 

[19] Huey, Jeremiah Lamentations, 423.

 

[20] S. Talmon, “הַר” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:427-447. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 443-444.

[21] D.N. Freedman and J. Lundbom, “דֹּור” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:173-181. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 174.

 

[22] G.J. Botterweck, “דֹּור” in Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 14 vols., ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck, Helmer Ringgren and Heinz-Josef Fabry translated by John T. Willis, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and David E. Green, 3:174. (Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), 174.

[23] Freedman, “דֹּור”, 174-175.

 

[24] Ibid, 175.

[25] Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah, 757.

 

[26] Bill T. Arnold, “Babylonians,” in Peoples of the Old Testament World, edited by Alfred J. Hoerth, Gerald L. Mattingly and Edwin M. Yamauchi (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1994), 66.

 

[27] Quoted in Albert Champdor, Babylon, translated by Elsa Coult (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1958), 126.

 

[28] T. Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, (Leuven, Belgium: Peeters Publishers and Department of Oriental studies, 2004), 105.

 

[29] Ibid, 108.

 

[30] That is, the Persian Empire period.

[31] Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, 3.

 

[32] Ibid, 178.

 

[33] Ibi, 186.

[34] Jacob Neusner, From Politics to Piety: The Emergence of Pharisaic Judaism, (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003), 27.

 

[35] Gemara were Jewish commentary on the Jewish code of the Oral Torah that were collected and written down called the Mishnah.  See Neusner, From Politics to Piety, xxi.

[36] Pesahim 66a (or Peshahim 6:1).  Quoted from H. Freedman, Pesahim: Translated into English with notes, glossary and indices (London: The Soncino Press, 1938), 333-334.

[37] Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, 191.

[38] Ibid, 192.

[39] Caroline Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, (Ghent, Belguim: University of Ghent, 1995), 5.

[40]Ibid, 22-23.

[41]  Kitab al-Masalik Wa’l-mamalik fragments quoted in Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, 23.

[42] Al-Karhi is apparently also known as Al-Istahri.

[43] Al-Istahri’s fragments quoted in Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, 30.

[44] Ibn Hawqal fragments quoted in Janssen, Mesopotamian History and Enviornment: Babil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine, 33.

[45] Brian M. Fagan, Return to Babylon: Travelers, Archaeologists, and Monuments in Mesopotamia, (Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1979), 214.

 

[46] Ibid,, 215.

[47] Ibid.

 

[48] Ibid, 216.

 

[49] Boiy, Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon, 56.

 

[50] Fagan, Return to Babylon: Travelers, Archaeologists, and Monuments in Mesopotamia, 217.

 

[51] Ibid, 219.

[52] In 2003 I was with the Marines in Iraq and had the privilege of visiting the ruins of Babylon about half a dozen time.  Seeing the ruins left much to treasure in my heart concerning the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah especially with the prediction of it’s burnt destruction which the remains seem to lack any past indication of.

Read Full Post »

In today’s day and age people assume they have a right not to be offended. While there is a sense that we as believers are to work on being gracious in presenting the truth, it is also the case that the truth will offend. Answers in Genesis takes a look into this topic.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2011/01/25/christians-should-not-offend?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+AIGDaily+%28Answers+in+Genesis+Daily+Articles%29

Read Full Post »

Greg Bahnsen, the student of Van Til who contributed heavily towards the popularization of Presuppositionalism, has a good quote evaluating the issue of modern scientific studies and it’s alleged challenge to the normative aspect of the Word of God:

Christian ethics does not have its source in human research, evaluations, plans, or authority, but rather in the revealed Word of God.  In His sight all things are open and manifest.  His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent of the creature, and He is most holy in all His counsels, works, and commands.  Because God is omniscient, because He has created man with his specific nature, because He sovereignly governs every event of history, God does not depend upon man’s modern research to make His law applicable or relevant to man’s every historical situation.  Being the eternal creator and sustainer of the world and unchanging in His nature, God is not threatened with obsolesce; He and His law are relevant to every moment of finite man’s existence.” (Bahnsen, Homosexuality, p. 23).

Read Full Post »

Purchase: Amazon

This is a fascinating book as it discusses about the historical Pharisees and also provides some background information of the primary sources that talk about the Pharisees. The author is Jewish, and this work might be offensive to orthodox Jews and Christians, who consciously employs higher critical methodology. This methodology, specifically when it comes to his source criticism when it comes to the primary source materials, has been applied to the Christian gospels from some quarters of New Testament scholarship but now is employed in the evaluation of Jewish primary sources. This to me is a major drawback as there are times where his conjecture seems too subjective.
As a Christian, I commend him for his interaction with the Christian sources in discussing about the historical Pharisees. He devotes a chapter on the Gospel accounts of the Pharisees. He goes out on a limb to step into a territory that he notes many Jewish studies does not, by interacting with the Christian gospels. This commendable first step move makes a Christian reader such as myself more lenient when it comes to some simple mistakes that I’m surprised any scholar would make when it comes to the Gospels. For instance, he cites Matthew 27:67 as an example of the Gospel narrative in which the Pharisees were enemies of Jesus on page 69, but there is no verse 67 in Matthew 27. He quotes Luke 13:31 on page 72, but that reference is off. In the section that he discusses about the Pharisees and Christians in agreement, he stated that “Luke-Acts preserves a different picture of the Pharisees. They appear as allies of the Christians and friends of Jesus” (Page 71). However, this goes against the very citation of Luke passages he has mentioned to support the view of the Gospel showing the Pharisees as Jesus’ enemies on pages 68-71. There is no indication in Neusener’s writing of any awareness on his part of the glaring problem.
One thing I did appreciate about Neusener’s work is how he lays out the method behind his interaction with the primary text. The author has stated the book’s purpose is more about the methodology behind the historical study of the Pharisees than a study on the Pharisees per se (though it does that). I reach a stage where I am tired of the bare naked assertions of writers who does not discuss how they come to their conclusion or a disputed premise. One may disagree and find their method problematic (I do at some point with the subjectiveness of Neusener’s method) but at least readers can see how the author come to their conclusion.
He supplements his chapters with two appendices from two other writers concerning source criticism of the Gospels. I did not find this section helpful at all, and really a case of all that is silly with higher criticism.
What I sought to find in this book originally was a short primer of an understanding of the Pharisees movement from the eyes of Judiasm. To that end, I find this book useful. The work was friendly to a general reading audience who might not be well versed with the different Rabbis. He does a good introduction on the them, and also their historical context after 70 A.D. I have also found portion of the book to be illuminating concerning the difficulties of studying second temple Judiasm (relevant in light of the debate on the New Perspective on Paul)

Read Full Post »

This is over at Focus on the Family Podcast from last week.

I thought it was still good.  Touching.

Leaving Planned Parenthood 2
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 11:00 PM

Former abortion clinic director Abby Johnson explains why she is now pro-life.
Media files
ffd_20110120.mp3 (MP3 Format Sound, 19.6 MB)

 

Leaving Planned Parenthood 1
Tuesday, January 18, 2011 11:00 PM

Former abortion clinic director Abby Johnson explains why she is now pro-life.

Read Full Post »

For those of you who have been hearing left wing liberals rhethorics that the responsibility of the tragic shooting at Tuscon lies with Conservative political rhetorics, it’s a sad cheap shot ploy to learn that a suspect can be innocent before proven guilty and yet some can make a leap in their conclusion to blame those on the other side of the political paradigm for being responsible for the shooting.  Never mind that the guy Jared Lee Lougner is a Statist (definitely not a Conservative value) whose list of favorite book includes the Communist Manifesto.  For the record, I don’t blame any Democrats, I think the guy is just a nut.

Over at the Christian worldview ministry of American Vision, there has been an interesting turn of events.

On January 14th, one of their writers wrote a piece responding to the slanderous lies of the left leaning Mother Jones, which has published an erroneous piece against their organization.

What I thought was ironic was how the Left gives rhetoric that the promotion of fears and lies by Conservatives are evil but don’t reprimand their own for doing it.

This hypocrisy and the problem of the Leftist argument was then pointed out in a piece by Gary DeMar on January 17th.

The next day, January 18th, American Vision got in the mail a letter with a threat and white powder.

Using the same line of reasoning that the Left use against the Right, is the Left’s rhetoric of fear and lies now make them responsible for their spew of hate?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »