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The next powerful empire to rule the civilized world was Babylon. The rebel coalition that conquered Nineveh consisted of Medes, Scythians and, most notably, Babylonians. Babylon went on to conquer all of what had belonged to Assyria—plus it added Judah, Tyre and Egypt, among others. Under Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian Empire reached its height of power between 600 and 560 BC. The city of Babylon itself reached its zenith of magnificent splendor during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign.

The prophets Isaiah (writing about 700 BC) and Jeremiah (writing before 600 BC) made predictions about the city of Babylon that took a period of centuries to fully come to pass. Numerous secular historical sources confirm that these predictions were in fact accurate. Did Isaiah and Jeremiah just happen to make “lucky guesses”?

Let’s read some of their prophecies and then look at their subsequent fulfillments.

Prophecies—A prophecy written over 150 years in advance about Babylon’s future fall—and of specifically who would bring it about—is found in Isaiah 45:1-2. “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have made strong in order to humble nations before him. And I will loosen the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved doors; and the gates shall not be shut. ‘I will go before you, and make hills level. I will break in pieces the bronze gates, and cut the iron bars in two.’ ”

Isaiah also wrote: “ ‘And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the majestic beauty of the Chaldees, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited forever, nor shall people dwell in it from generation to generation; nor shall the Arabian pitch his tent there; nor shall the shepherds make their flocks to lie down there. But the wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of howling creatures; and ostriches shall dwell there, and he-goats shall dance there. And hyenas shall cry in their towers, and jackals in their luxuriant palaces. Yea, her time is coming near, and her days shall not be prolonged…. I will also make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water; and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Isa. 13:19-22; 14:23).

Several things are foretold in this passage: 1) Babylon would be as thoroughly destroyed as were Sodom and Gomorrah—though not by the same means, which had been fire from the skies (Isa. 13:19); 2) it would become uninhabited and never reoccupied (verse 20); 3) Arabs would not pitch their tents there (verse 20); 4) there would be no sheepfolds there (verse 20); and 5) it would become a swampland (Isa. 14:23).

Fulfillments—Both the Greek historian Herodotus in his The Histories 1.189-191 and the Jewish historian Josephus in Against Apion give detailed accounts of how Cyrus fulfilled these prophecies through his conquest of Babylon nearly two centuries after Isaiah wrote them.

According to Floyd Hamilton, “Travelers report that the city [Babylon] is absolutely uninhabited, even [by] Bedouins. There are various superstitions current among the Arabs that prevent them from pitching their tents there, while the character of the soil prevents the growth of vegetation suitable for the pasturage of flocks.”18

Layard describes the site of Babylon’s ruins this way: “The great part of the country below ancient Babylon has now been for centuries one great swamp…. The embankments of the rivers, utterly neglected, have broken away, and the waters have spread over the face of the land.”19

God predicted that Babylon would never be rebuilt or inhabited. In the late 1900s, Saddam Hussein, while dictator of Iraq, made an abortive attempt to rebuild and resettle Babylon. The few buildings he managed to erect stand empty today.

More Prophecies—The prophet Jeremiah also made predictions concerning Babylon’s fall. In chapter 51, God’s vengeance on Babylon is pronounced. Note especially verse 26: “And they shall not take a stone from you for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but you shall be a desolation forever.” Verse 43 tells us that Babylon’s ruins would not even become a tourist attraction, as the ancient ruins of Egypt and other places have: “Her cities are a desolation, a dry land and a wilderness, a land in which no man dwells, nor does any son of man pass by it.”

More Fulfillments—The giant foundation stones have not been removed from the ruins of Babylon. Peter Stoner writes, “Bricks and building materials of many kinds have been salvaged from the ruins for cities round about, but the rocks, which were imported to Babylon at such great cost, have never been moved.”20

The ruins of Babylon today are not visited by sightseers. Stoner adds, “Though nearly all ancient cities are on prominent tourist routes, Babylon is not, and has very few visitors.”21

The Bible prophesied that Babylon, the major world power of its day, would completely fall to ruin. That ruin took centuries to complete, but has now been totally accomplished. Not even Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, with all his power and resources, could defeat the prophecies of the Bible. Was Saddam defeated in his effort to rebuild Babylon by a supernatural power far greater than himself? 

Fulfilled Biblical Prophecies: What Does it Mean?

We’ve only briefly sampled the most striking prophecies concerning past empires of the civilized world. Other prophecies—regarding Greece, Rome and lesser kingdoms and city-states such as Gaza, Ashdod and Ashkelon—abound in the Bible. History shows that those predictions were also fulfilled—some quickly and some over a long period of time. Were all these fulfillments just by “coincidence”? Did the biblical prophets who made such predictions simply manage one “lucky guess” after another? Do you realize how astronomical the odds against such a thing would be?

Some have estimated that a third of the Bible is prophecy. If that is true, an even larger portion of the Bible is history. Yet many scholars (and even some theologians) dismiss the accounts of historical events related in the Bible as myths or fables. In the next division of this work, we’ll see that much of the Bible’s history is supported by written secular history and/or by findings in archaeology. We’ll also examine the opinions of respected scholars on the credibility of the Bible’s history.