Aug 19, 2008

The Rebuilding Of Babylon

By James Abney

Could record oil prices be helping to fund the rebuilding of Babylon? If you’re a student of Bible prophecy and tend toward a more literal and serious interpretation of the Bible, then the answer is quite possibly, yes.

On Wednesday, August 6, 2008, Fox News published an Associated Press article titled Iraq's Budget Surplus Could Top $79 Billion on High Oil Prices. [1] This is an interesting development for a burgeoning nation with a newly formed government – a nation which is just now beginning a strong recovery from years of war and sectarian difficulties.

Although the Iraqi government is having some issues allocating its oil revenues, the nation is apparently beginning to emerge from dysfunctional governance, towards legitimacy. According to the article, “Iraq is paying for more of its own reconstruction but is still struggling to spend its multibillion dollar surplus as it copes with a flood of oil revenue and a cumbersome approval process meant to curb corruption…” [1]

While we’re not yet seeing an Iraq that’s completely independent, surplus revenues in the billions of dollars are a sure step along that path – and it’s quite a different picture than was being painted 18 months ago by the mainstream media. The reason we don’t hear too much about Iraq on the evening news lately is that things are going quite well. What does this have to do with Babylon?

Bordering Baghdad province to the south (about 9 miles south of Baghdad city) is the province of Babil with its provincial capital, Al Hillah. [3] According to Wikipedia, Babil is 5,603 square kilometers and has an approximate population of 1,385,783. [2]

Only 3.5 miles north of Al Hillah proper lay the ruins of ancient Babylon. [4] If Al Hillah were any closer, it would practically surround Babylon city. Let’s take a look at a few verses of Jeremiah’s prophecy against Babylon in chapter 51:

Jer 51:26 “No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone,
nor any stone for a foundation,
for you will be desolate forever,”
declares the LORD.

Jer 51:37 “Babylon will be a heap of ruins,
a haunt of jackals,
an object of horror and scorn,
a place where no one lives.”

Jer 51:43 “Her towns will be desolate,
a dry and desert land,
a land where no one lives,
through which no man travels.”

This prophecy was given by the prophet Jeremiah, around the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar in about 586 B.C.; and as we’ll see, has never seen a literal fulfillment.

I want to take a few phrases from this prophecy and examine them in the light of what we know today.

First, “No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone, nor any stone for a foundation.” In 1985, Saddam Hussein began a rebuilding project atop the ruins of ancient Babylon, performing new construction as well as restoration. [5] In addition, he built a lavish palace overlooking the ancient ruins, spending more than 500 million dollars for the projects. [6]

Far from never having a stone taken for a foundation, the ruins of the ancient city became the very foundation for Hussein’s restoration project.

Second, “Babylon will be…an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives.” Rather than being an object of horror and scorn, Babylon city is viewed as alluring – and it’s attracting investment. As recently as 2006, the Iraqi government along with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) according to the International Herald Tribune, were making plans to, “…restore Babylon…. to turn it into a cultural center and possibly even an Iraqi theme park.” [8]

The article also states that, “The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is pumping millions of dollars into Babylon and a handful of other sites. It has even printed a snazzy brochure to give to wealthy donors. "Cultural tourism could become Iraq's second biggest industry, after oil," explained Philippe Delanghe, a United Nations official helping with the project.” [8]

A recent article in The Independent is titled, “Iraq's new venture: Holidays in the Garden of Eden” and subtitled, “Iraq is trying to lure visitors to the land of Babylon with the slogan 'tourism not terrorism'. There is no shortage of ancient attractions…” The article goes on to say, “…the cradle of civilisation, the land of Babylon and the Garden of Eden, will become a paradise for foreign tourists.” [9]

Third, “Her towns will be desolate [forever]…a land where no one lives, through which no man travels.” The majority of this explicit declaration of Babylon’s future state and status is proclaimed twice, throughout the Jeremiah chapter 51 verses 26, 37, and 43, as if to emphasize the points. However today, a military base sits not one quarter of a mile southwest of the city wall, complete with an AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) military exchange store. [7] [4] What looks to be tents and vehicles lie between the southern wall and the palace road. [4]

Cars, trucks, and Humvees run to and fro around and through the Babylon city area. Roads run right through and past Babylon city – north and south, east and west – from the Ishtar gate to Al Hillah, and from the banks of the river Euphrates to the main highway. Just east of the site are several Blackhawk helicopters on a landing pad. [4] This region has yet to become a land, “through which no man travels.”

Just to the south, the provincial capital city of Al Hillah practically engulfs ancient Babylon, which is considered to be part of the capital city itself. [5] As of 1998, Al Hillah boasted a population of over 367,000 people. [10] Near the city’s center is a statue memorializing Hammurabi, [11] [3] the sixth king of Babylon.

As mentioned above, Al Hillah is the target of investments by UNESCO and others, seeking a restoration of this area as a tourist attraction and cultural center. According to the book of Revelation, it will likely become much more than that.

Rev 17:18 “The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth."

Rev 18:3 "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."

Parallel to Jeremiah 50 and 51 are Isaiah 13 and 14, along with Revelation 17 and 18. Each of these speaks of the total destruction of Babylon, never to be inhabited again. To date, this hasn’t happened.

While some might suggest that these prophecies were fulfilled in 539 B.C. with the Medo-Persian conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, this event involved practically no violence: the city was taken without outright warfare, and even thrived for a while during the time of Alexander the Great. [12]

Under the Parthian and later Persian Empires, Babylon, although greatly diminished, “continued to have its own culture and peoples, who spoke varieties of Aramaic, and who continued to refer to their homeland as Babylon.” [12] Babylon steadily declined throughout the centuries, never seeing the fulfillment of its total destruction.

Isa 13:9 See, the day of the LORD is coming
--a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger--
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.

Isa 13:20 She will never be inhabited
or lived in through all generations;
no Arab will pitch his tent there,
no shepherd will rest his flocks there.

Rev 18:21 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.

In order for these prophecies to see a literal fulfillment, Babylon must be utterly destroyed, never to be inhabited again. We have yet to see this occur in history, so we can expect to see it happen in the future. This serves as a test of the literal interpretation of Bible prophecy. What can we anticipate?

It’s likely we’ll continue to see signs of Babylon’s (and Al Hillah’s) rebuilding, and its becoming a ‘cultural center.’ I believe we should expect to see the increasing stabilization of Iraq, and its sustained economic prosperity and growth in the coming years, if the Lord tarries that long.

As with the third Temple and the nation of Israel, it seems that we can use Babylon as one of the gauges of the end times. The nation of Iraq, home of the ancient land of Babylon, is being restored – it’s being given the billions of dollars necessary to build (and rebuild) the ‘great’ city of Babylon. Keep watching.

If we take the prophecies concerning Babylon literally and seriously, then it begins to appear that the sky is red and overcast. (Matthew 16:3).


[3] Google Maps – Al Hillah:,44.437046&z=14&t=h&hl=en
[4] Google Maps – Babylon:,44.420233&z=16&t=h&hl=en
[7] Babylon Exchange:
[11] Statue of Hammurabi in Al Hillah: