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Part of the Desk's Mystery Series
[NOTE: This is another in the Desk's Ongoing Mystery Series. The topic this time is the subject of the dark prophecies of the Book of Revelation and whether or not the Apostle was talking about New York City.
    No particular ideology is to be inferred from this article, nor is it to be considered as dismissive. The tone here is meant to be an objective look at the text and the facts concerning the ancient city of Babylon and it's portrayal in the Bible. As with other topics in this series, this article is a brief examination of the subject, once again, you could take an entire semester-long college level course on just the "Babylon" chapters of Revelation.
    Please accept it as such.
thank you ]

Is America (or New York City) "Babylon the Great" from Revelation?

      The obvious answer to the title question is "Yes, and... No."
      But first, let's look at some background and the passages in question and then see if we can "rightly divide the Word" and come to some sort of understanding.
      As always, below the article there are assorted links to outside sources so you can start checking things out for yourself.

The town and its kings.

      First of all, yes, Babylon was indeed a real place and time. The word itself is very important to the city's place in history and comes from the Akkadian language, and means 'gate of the gods' which also indicates that religion was very important to the Babylonian locals.
      Located in what is usually referred to as Mesopotamia (the Greek word is descriptive and means '(land) between the rivers'), in what is today's Iraq, Babylon was the capitol city of Babylonia under King Hammurabi in about 1790 BC during its first Golden Era, and yes, when your town is as old as Babylon, it may have several Golden Eras. However, human settlement at the site of Babylon goes back further than even Hammurabi.
      The founding of the city itself is lost in antiquity somewhere on the order of three thousand years, or more, before Christ. Legends and rumors of the great king Sargon are swapped between archeologists and anthropologists and others, all of whom wax poetic about the Fertile Crescent and the first civilizations along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Now get this picture, when 'Hammi' moved in and took the job as king, Babylon itself was already at least a thousand years old!
      And Ancient ancient-Babylon was a true civilization. It was their system of mathematics that gave us the dividing of a day in to twenty-four hours, as well hours and seconds into sixty units each through their use of Base 60 numbers. And the dividing of a circle into 360 degrees, which also gives us angles including the ninety degree right angle of fame and story. The books and manuscripts that have survived in some of their libraries are very well written, organized logically by categories and topics, and presented in a readable format. Well, at least as far as clay tablets go.

      Then there is the second known Golden Era of Babylon. Under the fabled Biblical King Nebuchadnezzar the Great who didn't come on the scene to build the fabulous Ishtar Gate until about 600 BC. By then, Babylon itself was well over Two Thousand years old.
      Was 'Neb's Babylon the same town as 'Hammi's?
      That's a real good question, and a tough one to answer.
      But the most likely answer is that no, it wasn't the exact same street plan and all that, but it was in the general vicinity and in the same spirit of Marduk, if you will. And we'll look at more of that in our next section.

      Babylon as a power declined after it was overrun by the Persian King Cyrus the Great in about 530 BC. After that, Babylon's time was over and eventually the great city faded from view and became a legend of ancient power and decadence. By the time of the Greek conquest the old capitol was nearly in ruins, and not long thereafter when yet another empire marched through, it was.
      Although local nomads knew of the old foundations and used them for a quarry, the historic aspects of the various sites associated with the place had been forgotten.

      It wasn't until the Eighteen Teens when any serious Archeology was done at the site... and the rest, as they say, is History. That isn't what this brief is about, but we need to look at it for a minute anyway to make sense of the rest.

The dirt on the archeology of the place:

      As for exactly Where along the river Babylon was is something of a mystery in and of itself.
      Yes, we know where most of the site is, simply because we've found remains and relics and those library books we've already mentioned. So there is some agreement as to the general location of downtown district of the greatest city of the time (some believe the population at its height may have been as high as a quarter of a million people). And there you have the gist of it, Babylon was huge, so it is quite possible we've only found part of it.
      It just isn't simple when you get to specifics because, well, because the rivers themselves have moved, as has the sea. You see, sea level has changed over the years, and at one point, the Arabian (Persian) Gulf's shoreline was a significant distance north of where it is today, by some accounts, during the historic period of Babylon, the coast may have been as much as a hundred miles or more inland from where the mouths of the rivers are now. [No, there is no such thing as a permanent beachfront, no matter what the environmentalists say. But that is the subject for another paper.] Which would make the seagoing trade to the city more efficient and economical and support the growing population even though Babylon itself would still have been some distance upriver from the coast. It is also likely that the ships could not have docked at the city's waterfront except during the spring when the rivers would be running fully, during the drier parts of the year any commerce would probably have been brought up on smaller boats or transported overland from the coast.
      However, trade goods from India and China have been found all through the area suggesting a thriving merchant class and the ships and caravans that would support it.

      Now a word about Marduk and company.
      Babylon was typical of the polytheistic cultures of the time. They had numerous gods and goddesses, demons and powers and so on. There were perhaps half a dozen or so primary deities, mostly adopted from older Sumerian gods, and a whole brigade of lesser entities including the somewhat mysterious Anunnaki whom some say were actually ancient cosmonauts. They truly had a god (or whatever) for all occasions, and we still don't know all of them and what they did. However we do know that Nabu was the god of writing and wisdom and there was even a demon named Miqit who caused strokes.
      It was under Nebuchadnezzar when the local gods came up against the God of the Jews and faired rather badly in the contest according to the Biblical accounts. And it was shortly after Daniel and his friends shook things up that Neb had a really bad day, or actually several years of bad days, until he was restored to his throne and died as King.
      And don't just get the idea that it is only from the Bible that we get the accounts of Nebuchadnezzar and his madness (or sickness depending on your reading of the texts). There are outside accounts of the King scampering through the fields naked and so on during the years of his extended vacation from the palace. There are also engravings and other hard evidence of him and his times so we even have a good idea of what he looked like before he started to think he was a cow.
      Now, back to John.

So was Saint John actually pronouncing doom on NYC?

      Well, let's look and see.
      At the time the letter was written to the Seven Churches, the Power in the world was Rome. Even though John was already in exile on Patmos, to write something that was basically saying that Rome would be burned to the ground would be a bad career move and possibly shorten his exile to the length of time it'd take for the Governor to have somebody swing by and kill the Apostle for writing it. But since the book is obviously prophetic, it could be anything from that time on through ours and even into the far flung future and mean a city that hasn't been founded yet.
      From the text, see below, it would appear that the Babylon as mentioned by John would be a coastal city. Something which, as we noted earlier, that was not the case with the original. But the Babylon of the prophecy is a world center of culture and commerce.
      So if that isn't New York, New York what we have is the idea that the Babylon of Revelation is ... what? Hong Kong? Tokyo? Or maybe Los Angeles? Or something from the emerging world such as the Rio - San Paulo area of Brazil or Dubai in the Middle East. Or even someplace, well, someplace else entirely.

      Let's do what some preachers do and only look at pieces of verses and the clues in them, but then we'll do what a lot of them don't do, and look at entire sections of text and maybe even whole chapters, and there's a link at the end to the entire books of Daniel, Jeremiah, and Revelation so you can go read it for yourself.

      Most of the clues are from Revelation 18, as quoted below.
      The Babylon of Revelation is a world center of commerce and sea travel. As such it has many wealthy merchants and others who live in luxury on the profits so created. It is known for conspicuous consumption and displays overt signs of wealth in gems and gold. It can also be seen from far off, evidently from land and sea because a great multitude watch it burn when it is overthrown. The city also exports "sin" to every nation on Earth from its port. And in the end, it would appear that the city is swallowed by the sea, never to be seen again. Also. It has a large number of Christians in it, or others faithful to the Lord, who are warned ahead of time to get out while they can.

      As a Metaphysicist (see link below) the Desk has to point out that the only criteria for being warned that the city's time is up is that they be "my people". Remember, there were those who worshiped the Lord in the Old Testament who were NOT Jews. One was the Righteous King of Salem, Melchisedech from Genesis 14. He is listed as an example to the faithful in Hebrews 7, even though he wasn't under the Covenant of Abraham. And he has been held out in Sunday School classes for a long time as a "type of Christ". Correct?
      It could well be that God the Father, the Uncaused First Cause of the Universe, the Greatest Thing Imaginable in the Mind of Humans.... that He, has other plans and didn't check with the preachers about them when it comes time to close the book on all this. [end tangent]
      So, other than New York... or for that matter, Taipei, London, Philadelphia, Detroit, and maybe even Mumbai or Shanghai... and the cities we listed before, where could it be?
      Almost anywhere.
      Even Seattle can be made to fill the bill as a great center of commerce that exports evil (fancy coffee, Microsoft products).
      Consider San Francisco. It too is a world center of commerce, exports sin by the boat and plane load, and sits on enough natural ticking time bombs to make any Old Testament Prophet happy, and there are a number of the Faithful there. It could easily slide into the sea, as people have been saying California is going to do for years, "never to be found again".

      So what we come to in short order is that while the prophesy is specific, a major city is going to burn to the ground and then fall into the ocean (or have the ocean rise up and swallow it, either works), it is conveniently vague so that Pastors and Bishops and Televangelists have been proclaiming for the last two thousand years or so that everything this side of Ephesus is the doomed metropolis of Revelation. Whatever the current cradle of sin is, is it.
      At one time Venice was the most prosperous city in Europe, traded heavily with the Muslim countries to the south east, and as such, was condemned for it by various figures. Oh well.
      So in the here and now... NYC and LA make the most attractive targets for the finger wagging, but in reality, there are numerous "Babylons" and, truth be told, the condemned city could be ... ... (dramatic pause worthy of a mahogany pulpit, a fancy designer suit, and a high end wristwatch) ... ... All Of Them!
      Yes. The text itself seems to imply that it is one city, but it could be read in the plural, and the original language itself could be translated as such. Which means that when one goes, they all go.

      Could it be that Babylon itself, the city of Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar could be restored to its former glory and become a world power, and then fall under the curse of St. John and be washed away?
      Anything is possible. And given the time scale of the prophesies that were fulfilled in the Old Testament, some covering a couple of thousand years or more, it is indeed possible that if not Ancient Babylon, then a city in the same area could rise to power and proclaim itself the new incarnation of the old town and take its place in the world.
      Stranger things have happened indeed.

From The New International Translation as presented on the Bible Gateway site, link below.

Revelation 18
After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted:
    "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
        She has become a home for demons
    and a haunt for every evil spirit,
        a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
For all the nations have drunk
        the maddening wine of her adulteries.
    The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
        and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
    "Come out of her, my people,
        so that you will not share in her sins,
        so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
        and God has remembered her crimes.
Give back to her as she has given;
        pay her back double for what she has done.
        Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
Give her as much torture and grief
        as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
    In her heart she boasts,
        'I sit as queen; I am not a widow,
        and I will never mourn.'
Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
        death, mourning and famine.
    She will be consumed by fire,
        for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:
    " 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
        O Babylon, city of power!
    In one hour your doom has come!'

"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any moreó cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.

"They will say, 'The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.' The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out:
    " 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
        dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
        and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!'

    "Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, 'Was there ever a city like this great city?' They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:
    " 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
        where all who had ships on the sea
        became rich through her wealth!
    In one hour she has been brought to ruin!
Rejoice over her, O heaven!
        Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets!
    God has judged her for the way she treated you.' "

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:
    "With such violence
        the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
        never to be found again.
The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters,
        will never be heard in you again.
    No workman of any trade
        will ever be found in you again.
    The sound of a millstone
        will never be heard in you again.
The light of a lamp will never shine in you again.
    The voice of bridegroom and bride
        will never be heard in you again.
    Your merchants were the world's great men.
        By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints,
        and of all who have been killed on the earth."

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
    Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
    for true and just are his judgments.
    He has condemned the great prostitute
        who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
    He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." And again they shouted:
    The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried:
    "Amen, Hallelujah!"
[end quote]

All outside links will open in new

Babylonian gods and others: (A good background site from the British Museum.)

An example of an ancient text from Babylon

Ancient shorelines get a passing mention in this article:

Daniel, Jeremiah, Melchisedech and Co.

Other Desk Mystery Series Articles:

Flaming Swords

The Fibonacci Sequence

"Don't let it be forgot, That once there was a spot, For one brief, shining moment that was known as Camelot"

The Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient manuscripts.

And more with the other Non-Fiction Articles:

Metaphysical Boundaries The Desk's ongoing Thesis.

[NOTE: All listed works, sites, and their prophecies, are owned by other entities. No disparagement or disrespect is intended.
      The Desk is solely responsible for the analysis and conclusions hereby presented. If the reader has any issues with anything in the article they may contact the Desk through the usual channels.
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