In later centuries, the town of Babel was called Babylon, while the whole area between the Euphrates and the Tigris was called Babylonia.
You come across the names Babel, Babylon, Babylon the Great, and Babylonia everywhere in the Bible. Whenever these names are not used for the concrete town or nation, they always refer to political and religious systems which are extremely hostile towards God and His intentions with the earth and mankind. The Bible mentions these names with disgust and leaves no doubt about it. Babel, Babylon, Babylon the Great, and Babylonia with everything they stand for will be completely destroyed in the end. Just before Jesus Christ will establish his kingdom on our earth, he will first see to it that in this new kingdom, there will not be any trace left of the ideas and practices of Babel and Babylonia.
As mentioned before, Nimrod was the founder of both the town of Babel and the country of Babylonia. Babel is about 80 kilometers south of the present city of Baghdad. The territory of Babylonia is the same as that of present-day South Iraq. In antiquity Babylonia, was often mentioned in one breath with a country which was situated on its northern boundary: Assyria. The territory of ancient Assyria is about the same as the territory of present-day North Iraq.
In ancient times, both Babylonia and Assyria were dominant powers in the Middle East which acted in a very aggressive and tyrannical way towards other countries in the region. The Hebrew Scriptures constantly mention these two political and military giants which posed a serious threat throughout the existence of the nation of Israel. In 740 B.C., Assyria attacked the northern ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, destroyed the country, and carried all the inhabitants away as prisoners. In 607 B.C., Babylonia did the same with the southern two-tribe kingdom, destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, and took the inhabitants with them to Babylonia as exiles. The Jewish exiles could return to the holy land only 70 years later, after Babylon had been captured by the Medes and Persians.
Throughout antiquity, Babylon was a very domineering town in the Middle East. It was a centre of political and military power. Likewise, it was a religious centre with more than 50 temples. Babylon was also a centre of commerce, science, and culture. The world powers which succeeded each other in the region in those days fought over the possession of Babylon many times. In 539 B.C., Babylon was captured by the Medes and the Persians. This fact marked the beginning of the Medo-Persian dominance in the region. For that matter, Babylon was the capital of the Medo-Persian Empire during this period. In 331 B.C., Alexander the Great captured Babylon. This started the Greek dominance in the region.
In the days of Jesus, Babylon was still a very important town. A lot of Jews lived there. Peter, who had taken it upon himself to preach the Christian faith to the Jews, visited the town and stayed there for a long time.
But in the Bible, the words Babel, Babylon, Babylon the Great, and Babylonia usually do not refer to the political and military power of this town and country. They usually refer to the religious ideas and practices which originated in this country and spread over the entire region and perhaps the entire world. In fact, Babylon was an extremely religious town. As mentioned before, there were more than fifty temples and large numbers of priests. Moreover, all aspects of the political, military, scientific, cultural, and economic life were strongly influenced by the country’s religion.
But the country’s religion was not the kind that is out to honor and serve the creator JHWH. The religion of Babylon was meant to serve the military, political, and financial interests of its practitioners. It is the kind of religion that the Bible calls false religion or pseudo religion. It is full of religious ideas and practices that are the exact opposite of the ones that JHWH approves of.
The Bible constantly contrasts the religion of Babylon and of Israel. It presents the two religious systems as each other’s opposites and enemies. When doing this, the Bible uses very harsh words. In Revelation, the words Babylon the Great are used as a symbol for all false religious systems that the world has ever known. It is stated that Babylon is the mother of all whores and of all abominable things of the earth. These harsh words emphasize the fact that the religious system of Babylon was not exclusively devoted to serving JHWH. Instead, it offered its services to every worldly powerful person or group of persons who were willing to make use of its services.
It is a fact that the religious ideas and practices of Babylon are very different from those propagated by the Bible. However, their influence on world religions in general has been tremendous. In the course of the centuries, Babylonian religious ideas have spread all over the region and the world. Many of these ideas were adopted by the Egyptians, Persians, inhabitants of India, and Greeks. Through the Greeks, they entered the religion of the Romans. In the days when the world was dominated by Rome, they spread all over the world of those days.
The last Bible book, Revelation, leaves no doubt that the religious ideas and practices that found their origin in Babylon will remain highly influential throughout the history of mankind. Only just before the time when Christ will come to the earth for the second time and start to reign as king will all traces of this pseudo religion be completely and permanently wiped out.