&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Babylon revisited

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&#91FOUNTAIN&#93Babylon revisited

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, ‘Go, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. Therefore, let it be called Babel.’”
This Bible scripture is from Genesis 11. This chapter introduces the Babylonian kingdom, a splendid and powerful civilization, in which Jehovah intervened to halt its arrogance.
The kingdom was built in the Mesopotamian area, which is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The area is where Sumerians built cities and invented cuneiform writing.
The hero of Babylonia was King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.). He expelled Assyrian powers from the area, conquered Syria and Palestine and destroyed Jerusalem. He forcibly moved hundreds of thousands of Israelis to Babylon, the capital of the kingdom. Babylon became the center of world commerce under his rule. Indeed, Nebuchadnezzar II was at the time the most powerful person in the orient.
After subjugating the entire orient, Nebuchadnezzar II built the Tower of Babel to show off his power and to enhance the kingdom’s prestige. He boasted that he would build the tower to reach the ends of heaven, thereby competing with that eternal place.
According to historical re-search, the height of the tower was 90 meters (295 feet) and contained 85 million bricks. The historian Herodotus writes that the sanctuary of the tower contained 22 tons of pure gold. Indeed, the Tower of Babylon was a golden tower.
Today, Babylon is Iraq. It seems that the dream of Saddam Hussein is to become like Nebuchadnezzar II. “Nebuchad-nezzar’s Babylonian kingdom reappears in the era of Hussein” is a catchphrase of the Hussein regime. The reason Iraq suppressed its minority population, the Kurds, engaged in a war with Iran and invaded Kuwait is because Iraq is still attached to the glory of Babylon. Babylon at the moment, though, is in real jeopardy.

by Chun Young-gi

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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