Babel Lives!

There is a much larger and older story behind the visions of the Book of Daniel than meets the eye, one that remains relevant to this day. The Book focuses on the Empire that has been attempting to rule the world since the dawn of human history. We ignore this biblical narrative at our peril. Not only was ancient Babel alive and well in the prophet's day, but even now it is rising once more on the world scene.

The Book’s opening passage calls the Neo-Babylonian Empire the “land of Shinar.” This is a verbal link to the tower of Babel incident recorded in the Book of Genesis. That story is echoed in Nebuchadnezzar’s imposition of the Babylonian language on his subjects, and in Chapter 3 of Daniel as he gathers all nations to pay homage to his great golden image- (Daniel 1:1-2).

All Gods - Photo by Jorgen Hendriksen on Unsplash
[Pantheon Photo by Jorgen Hendriksen on Unsplash]

Biblically speaking, the Neo-Babylonian Empire was not a new political entity. It had an ancient pedigree, and in the New Testament, the name “Babylon” becomes a cipher for the latest incarnation of the same
World Empire that always seeks absolute power over the Earth, and often exalts itself to divine status.

In Daniel, the imperial city in which the prophet found himself is the latest but certainly not the last iteration of this imperial power which periodically appears on Earth.


In Genesis, God thwarted the completion of a high tower in the “land of Shinar,” and this resulted in the diversity and distribution of languages, nations, and cultures across the planet. That story provides the reader with the true origins of the Neo-Babylonian Kingdom - (Genesis 11:1-9).

When the original tower was built in Babel, the “whole earth was of one language and one speech.” Noah’s descendants migrated to Mesopotamia to dwell “in the Land of Shinar.” Moreover, the name ‘Shinar’ is the Hebrew equivalent of ‘Sumer,’ the first known civilization in Mesopotamia.

The people of Shinar began to build a city with a high tower that would “reach the heavens and thus make us a name, lest we be scattered across the whole earth.” This description reflects the culture of Sumer. The cities featured temples built on ziggurats, which were tiered mounds that formed the highest point in a city. Each was dedicated to the city’s chief deity or deities, and its economic and religious activities centered on a city’s temple.

Originally, Yahweh commanded Adam to “multiply, replenish, and subdue the earth.” That same command was reiterated to Noah after the flood. However, humanity chose instead to move to Mesopotamia, build a new civilization, and make a name for itself. Consistently in the Bible, “Babylon” is characterized by its arrogance and idolatry - (Genesis 1:28, 9:1, Isaiah 14:13-14, 63:12-14, Jeremiah 32:20).

If humanity united under one language, its wickedness would know no bounds. By confounding languages, God caused the nations to spread across the Earth and stopped the first attempt at establishing a centralized regional if not global empire. Thus, the idolatrous ambitions of Babylon were delayed, at least, until a more opportune time. In Daniel, under Nebuchadnezzar, the Kingdom of Shinar had begun to rise again.

The latest ruler of “Babel” had attempted to reverse God’s ancient judgment. Having conquered the Kingdom of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar set out to gather different ethnic groups, cultures, and nations to his rebuilt city, where the people were educated in the “language of Babylon,” the latest incarnation of the World Empire.


In Genesis, the “whole earth spoke one language” as men began to dwell in “Shinar.” They built a city and tower of “great height” in the plain of Shinar to mark their achievements and prevent the dispersal of humanity.

Likewise, in Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar brought Judean captives to Babylon, the great city that he built. Exiles from other nations were educated in the “language of the Chaldeans.” Hence, what the original inhabitants of Babel began to do, Nebuchadnezzar attempted to complete.

Furthermore, Nebuchadnezzar “set up” a great golden image of exceptional “height” in the “plain of Dura,” then decreed that “all peoples, races, and tongues” must render homage to it.  He gathered representatives from every province and nation “to the dedication of his image” - (Daniel 3:1-8).

The verbal parallels are deliberate.  Just as the earlier inhabitants of Mesopotamia united to build a city and high tower for their own glory, so the Neo-Babylonian king presumed to unite all humanity under his authority, and to “pay homage” to the image he had “set up.”


In the Book of Revelation, “Babylon” takes on cosmic proportions in its war against the “Lamb” and his people. This final form of “Babylon” becomes the world “city” that is contrasted with the coming “Holy City of New Jerusalem.”

Babylon is the “great whore” who is full of the “abominations” and every “unclean thing” on Earth. Her hands are stained with the “blood of the prophets and the saints that have been slain on the earth.” She is characterized by her cruelty, arrogance, self-glorification, and the worship she demands from everyone she subjugates – (Revelation 17:1-6, 18:24).

In contrast, in “New Jerusalem” there is no “unclean or abominable thing,” and the “curse” imposed on humanity due to Adam’s sin is removed. It is populated with the “saints,” and God Himself dwells with them and “wipes away every tear from their eyes” – (Revelation 21:1-8).

Babylon’s influence affects the entire Earth, but the true key to her power lies in her control of global commerce. Economic sanction is her weapon of choice – (Revelation 18:1-24).

This cosmic abomination spans history. She rides the seven heads of the “Beast which is ascending from the Sea.” Its “heads” represent seven “kingdoms.” The first five empires had “fallen” before John’s time. The sixth existed in his day, which could only be the Roman Empire, and the seventh and final world power was yet to come.

In Chapter 13, the arrival of the “Beast” is described with a present tense participle. It is always “ascending,” either “from the Sea” or the “Abyss.” It has appeared numerous times in history, and it is intent on eradicating God’s people. Regardless of the historical identities of the past six kingdoms, or of the final regime, “Babylon” is an ever-present reality that corrupts and attempts to control the empires and nations of this world– (Revelation 17:7-12).

Likewise, today, there is another imperial power on the scene that uses economic control to impose its will on nations and peoples, especially those who refuse to pay the “Beast” the homage it expects and demands from the “Inhabitants of the Earth.” Will it become the final and “Seventh Kingdom” that “ascends from the Abyss”? Only time will tell. If not, sooner or later, another “Babel” will inevitably appear in History.




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