Wonders Of The World


BABYLON was a celebrated city of great antiquity, the capital of Chaldea and of the Babylonish empire. It was situated on the banks of the river Euphrates, and was founded by Nimrod shortly after the confusion of tongues at the building of the tower of Babel. (Genesis 10:10.) It was under Nebuchadnezzar, however, that Babylon became the seat of universal empire, and acquired that extent and magnificence which rendered it the wonder of the world.

The city stood on both sides of the river, which flowed through the middle. It was built in the form of a square, fifteen miles on each side, or sixty miles in circumference. There were fifty principal streets, twenty-five running each way; and these intersected each other so as to divide the city into 676 squares. These streets were each 150 feet wide and 15 miles in length. They were terminated at each end by massive gates of solid brass. There were twenty-five of these gates on each of the four sides of the city, thus making one hundred brazen gates in all. Three towers were erected at proper distances between each two of the gates; and these towers were ten feet higher than the wall, which was itself 350 feet in height and 87 feet in breadth. The whole number of towers was 250. Encompassing the city outside the wall, was a wide and deep ditch filled with water. From this ditch was taken the material from which the walls were made. This clay was made into huge blocks, which were cemented together to make the wall, and the whole soon became hard like brick. On each side of the river were also strong walls, with gates leading down to the water.

In the numerous squares into which the city was subdivided stood the houses, rising three and four stories in height and beautifully ornamented in almost every way imaginable. In the center of the city stood the temple of Belus, three miles in circumference. 

Its central tower, rising higher than the pyramids of Egypt, is supposed to have been the original tower of Babel built soon after the flood. The immense building in the center of the picture is designed to represent this temple.

Crossing the river was a magnificent bridge, connecting the two parts of the city, lying east and west of the river, which flowed north and south. 

This bridge is also plainly shown in the picture. At either end of the bridge was a palace, and the two buildings were connected with each other by a passage under the bed of the river. The old palace, the large building just this side of the tower of Belus, stood at the east end of the bridge, and was three and a half miles in circumference; the new palace, which stood on the west side of the river we cannot see. It was eight miles in circumference, and was surrounded with three walls, one within the other. The new palace was built by King Nebuchadnezzar, and in it Alexander the Great is said to have died.

Near this palace were the famous hanging gardens, another wonder of this royal city. They were constructed by Nebuchadnezzar to please his Median queen, Amytis, who, accustomed to the lofty hills and forests of her own country, could not be content with the level plain of Babylon. These gardens were raised on arches or piers, laid over with broad flat stones, and covered deeply with earth, and equaling in height the walls themselves. 

With their grottoes and castles, and full-grown forest trees, they seemed like the veritable mountains of beauty and verdure, which they were designed to imitate. The terraces were also covered with plants and flowers of great delicacy, beauty, and fragrance; and in the upper terrace was an engine, or pump, by which water was drawn from the river to water the whole garden.

"The wealth of all nations was poured into the lap of this proud city. 

All that human ingenuity could accomplish, all that gold could buy, was lavished upon it. And when the sun, which nowhere shone clearer than in the pure atmosphere of that fair land, rose upon Babylon, it looked upon a scene of beauty and splendor such as it never beheld on this earth before, and never since has seen. Marble palaces reflected its dazzling light. Lofty monuments caught and flung over the city the sun's rising splendors. Columns, domes, and towers grew radiant with the brightness of his beams. Princes of renown, with gorgeous retinues flashing with diamonds and gems, displayed their glory in the streets of the city. Wise men and philosophers adorned its society. Children, lighthearted and happy, mingled in the throngs of its public places, and made its parks and gardens ring with their merry glee. With mirth and music and song passed the gay hours in the proud city."

And such was Babylon; but God had through his prophets declared that it should be laid low on account of the wickedness of its people, that its temples should become heaps; that doleful creatures should dwell in its desolate places; that its gardens should become pools of water; and that it should be laid waste, and inhabited no more forever. Thus the proud city was doomed. But notwithstanding the word of God, the people continued in their boastful wickedness, defying both man and God. They thought they were perfectly safe within those massive walls, with a supply of provision for twenty years; but in one night, by the hand of Cyrus, God overturned that wicked government by giving its capital to the Medes and Persians.

And thus the works of man come to naught. But there is another city whose dimensions and magnificence far surpass those of Babylon while that was 60 miles in circumference, this city will be 1500. It will have a wall of jasper, great and high, the foundation of which will be adorned with precious stones of twelve different kinds; and its twelve gates will be, not of brass, but of pearl "each a several pearl." Its streets will be of gold, its mansions of such excellent beauty as to astonish the beholder. 

Through the midst of this city will pass a beautiful stream, whose sparkling waters will never cease to flow. 

The tree of life, which drinks from the living waters, will ever bud and blossom, and render its fruit every month for those who shall gather "from one new moon to another."

Reader, it is our privilege to be citizens of this glorious city, the New Jerusalem, which will endure forever, and whose builder and maker is God.