Nebuchadnezzar to Antiochus Epiphanes
1 Chronicles 1 to Malachi 4
Durant tells us the Nebuchadnezzar II (Nebuchadnezzar was also the name of an earlier king from the early 12th century BC Bienkowski tells us) was the son of Nabopolassar who, in alliance with the Medes liberated Babylonia from Assyrian control. Nebuchadnezzar’s inaugural address to Marduk, god-in-chief of Babylon, as Durant calls him, or another alias for Satan as I call him, gives us a hint of the new king’s character and goals;
“As my precious life do I love thy sublime appearance! Outside of my city Babylon, I have not selected among all settlements any dwelling…..At thy command, O merciful Marduk, may the house that I have built endure forever, may I be satiated with its splendor, attain old age therein, with abundant offspring, and receive therein tribute of the kings of all regions, from all mankind.”
Daniel, in chapter 2 of his book and in verse 38, states that Nebuchadnezzar is the head of fine gold of the image mentioned beginning in verses 31 and 32, the most excellent and powerful of kingdoms, representing the height of human power and self-glorification. All others after him would be inferior to him. Nebuchadnezzar was illiterate and not quite sane, as both Durant and the Bible reveal, but also the most powerful ruler of his time in the Near East, and the greatest warrior, statesman, and builder in all the succession of Babylonian kings after Hammurabi himself in Durant’s estimation. His destruction of Solomon’s temple marks the beginning of the times of the Gentiles, 400 years after the beginning of the building of the Temple. With 400 years between Testaments I am wondering what’s going to happen around 2011. Think about it. When Egypt rebelled, conspiring with Assyria to reduce Babylonia to slavery again, Nebuchadnezzar met the Egyptian army at Carchemish and almost annihilated them. Babylonian merchants then controlled all the trade from western Asia and the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea and, after all, that is what is important as it keeps the money flowing now as then.
Bienkowski says that Nebuchadnezzar was married to the daughter of the Median king which is interesting in that as it was an alliance between Babylon and Medea that destroyed Nineveh, it will be an alliance between Medea and Persia that will destroy Babylon. Greek historians declare that he invaded Egypt and laid siege to Tyre for 13 years as does Jeremiah 43:8-13 with regard to the Egyptian invasion.
His reputation is based on the destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of the Jewish people and his fabulous building works in Babylon, including the so-called “Hanging Gardens of Babylon” which were ranked by historians as among the Seven Wonders of the ancient World. The Seven Wonders of the World, by the way, are some things you should know about to be literate in history. These were not a single list but represented several lists compiled by Greek writers. The most famous lists were made by Antipater of Sidon and Philon of Byzantium. Most lists agree on six of the seven items.
The last place on some lists was awarded to the Walls of the City of Babylon. On others, the Palace of Cyrus, king of Persia took the seventh position. Finally, toward the 6th century A.D., the final item became the Lighthouse at Alexandria. Since it was Greeks who made the lists it is not unusual that many of the items on them were examples of and glorified Greek culture.
The writers might have listed the Great Wall of China if then had known about it, or Stonehenge if they'd seen it, but these places were beyond the limits of their world. It is a surprise to most people to learn that not all the Seven Wonders existed at the same time. Even if you lived in ancient times you would have still needed a time machine to see all seven.
While the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built centuries before the rest and are still around today (they are the only "wonder" still intact) most of the others only survived a few hundred years or less. The Colossus of Rhodes stood only a little more than half a century before an earthquake toppled it.”
I am now going to digress a bit and go over these Seven Wonders, or at list one list of them, so that you will have an idea of their history when it is brought before you in later education or just watching the Discovery or History Channel on television, if you can stomach their anti-Bible bigotry.
The first shrine to the Goddess Artemis was probably built around 800 B.C. on a marshy strip near the river at Ephesus. The Ephesus Goddess Artemis, sometimes called Diana, is not the same figure as the Artemis worshipped in Greece. The Greek Artemis is the goddess of the hunt. The Ephesus Artemis was a goddess of fertility and was often pictured as draped with eggs, or multiple breasts, symbols of fertility, from her waist to her shoulders. The shrine was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the next few hundred years. By 600 B.C., the city of Ephesus had become a major port of trade and an architect named Chersiphron was engaged to build a new large temple. He designed it with high stone columns. Concerned that carts carrying the columns might get stuck in the swampy ground around the site, Chersiphron laid the columns on their sides and had them rolled to where they would be erected. This temple didn't last long. In 550 B.C. King Croesus of Lydia conquered Ephesus and the other Greek cities of Asia Minor. During the fighting, the temple was destroyed. Croesus proved himself a gracious winner, though, by contributing generously to the building of a new temple. This was next to the last of the great temples to Artemis in Ephesus and it dwarfed those that had come before.
The architect is thought to be a man named Theodorus. Theodorus's temple was 300 feet in length and 150 feet wide with an area four times the size of the temple before it. More than one hundred stone columns supported a massive roof. The new temple was the pride of Ephesus until 356 B.C. when a tragedy, by name of Herostratus, struck.
Herostratus was a young Ephesian who would stop at no cost to have his name go down in history. He managed this by burning the temple to the ground. The citizens of Ephesus were so appalled at this act they issued a decree that anyone who spoke of Herostratus would be put to death. Shortly after this horrible deed, a new temple was commissioned.
The architect was Scopas of Paros, one of the most famous sculptors of his day. Ephesus was one of the greatest cities in Asia Minor at this point and no expense was spared in the construction. According to Piny the Elder, a Roman historian, the temple was a "wonderful monument of Grecian magnificence, and one that merits our genuine admiration." The temple was built in the same marshy place as before. To prepare the ground, Piny recorded that "layers of trodden charcoal were placed beneath, with fleeces covered with wool upon the top of them."
The building is thought to be the first completely constructed with marble and one of its must unusual features were 36 columns whose lower portions were carved with figures in high-relief.
The temple also housed many works of art including four bronze statues of Amazon women. Piny recorded the length of this new temple at 425 feet and the width at 225 feet. Some 127 columns, 60 feet in height, supported the roof. In comparison the Parthenon, the remains of which stand on the acropolis in Athens today, was only 230 feet long, 100 feet wide and had 58 columns. According to Piny, construction took 120 years, though some experts suspect it may have only taken half that time.
We do know that when Alexander the Great came to Ephesus in 333 B.C., the temple was still under construction. He offered to finance the completion of the temple if the city would credit him as the builder. The city fathers didn't want Alexander's name carved on the temple, but didn't want to tell him that. They finally gave the tactful response: "It is not fitting that one god should build a temple for another god" and Alexander didn't press the matter. Politicians have never changed.
Piny reported that earthen ramps were employed to get the heavy stone beams perched on top of the columns. This method seemed to work well until one of the largest beams was put into position above the door. It went down crookedly and the architect could find no way to get it to lie flat. He was beside himself with worry about this until he had a dream one night in which the Goddess herself appeared to him saying that he should not be concerned. She herself had moved the stone in the proper position. The next morning the architect found that the dream was true. During the night the beam had settled into its proper place, the legend goes.
The city continued to prosper over the next few hundred years and was the destination for many pilgrims coming to view the temple. A souvenir business in miniature Artemis
idols, perhaps similar to a statue of her in the temple, grew up around the shrine. It was one of these business proprietors, a man named Demetrius that gave Paul a difficult time when he visited the city in 57 A.D.
Paul came to the city to win converts to the then new religion of Christianity. He was so successful that Demetrius feared the people would turn away from Artemis and he would lose his livelihood. He called others of his trade together with him and gave a rousing speech ending with "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" They then seized two of Paul's companions and a near riot followed. Eventually the city was quieted, the men released, and Paul left for Macedonia. It was Paul's Christianity that won out in the end, though.
By the time the great Temple of Artemis was destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262 A.D., both the city and the religion of Artemis were in decline. When the Roman Emperor Constantine rebuilt much of Ephesus a century later, he declined to restore the temple. He had become a Christian and had little interest in pagan temples.
Despite Constantine's efforts, Ephesus declined in its importance as a crossroads of trade. The bay where ships docked disappeared as silt from the river filled it. In the end what was left of the city was miles from the sea, and many of the inhabitants left swampy lowland to live in the surrounding hills. Those that remained used the ruins of the temple as a source of building materials. Many of the fine sculptures were pounded into powder to make lime for wall plaster.
In 1863 the British Museum sent John Turtle Wood, an architect, to search for the temple. Wood met with many obstacles. The region was infested with bandits. Workers were hard to find. His budget was too small. Perhaps the biggest difficulty was that he had no idea where the temple was located. He searched for the temple for six years. Each year the British Museum threatened to cut off his funding unless he found something significant, and each year he convinced them to fund him for just one more season. Wood kept returning to the site each year many despite hardships. During his first season he was thrown from a horse, breaking his collar bone. Two years later he was stabbed within an inch of his heart during an assassination attempt upon the British Consul in Smyrna. Finally in 1869, at the bottom of a muddy twenty-foot deep test pit, his crew struck the base of the great temple. Wood then excavated the whole foundation removing 132,000 cubic yards of the swamp to leave a hole some 300 feet wide and 500 feet long. The remains of some of the sculptured portions were found and shipped the to British Museum where they can be viewed even today.
In 1904 another British Museum expedition under the leadership of D.G. Hograth continued the excavation. Hograth found evidence of five temples on the site, each constructed on top of the other.
Today the site of the temple is a marshy field. A single column is erect to remind visitors that once there stood in that place one of the wonders of the ancient world.
The ancient city of Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, must have been a wonder to the traveller’s eyes. “In addition to its size,” wrote Herodotus, the Greek historian, in 450 BC, “Babylon surpasses in splendor any city in the known world.” Herodotus claimed the outer walls were 56 miles in length, 80 feet thick, and 320 feet high. Wide enough, he said, to all a four horse chariot to turn. The inner walls were “not so thick as the first, but hardly less strong.” Inside the walls were fortresses and temples containing immense statues of solid gold. Rising above the city was the famous Tower of Babel, a temple to the god, Marduk, that seemed to reach to the heavens. While the archaeo-
logical examination has disputed some of Herodotus’s claims (the outer walls seem to be only 10 miles long and not nearly as high but be careful of calling an eyewitness wrong) his narrative does give us a sense of how awesome the features of the city appeared to those that visited it. Interestingly enough, though, one of the city’s most spectacular sites is not even mentioned by Herodotus; The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Accounts indicate that the garden was built by King Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled the city, it is believed for 43 years starting in 605 BC (there is another, less believed story, that the gardens were built by the Assyrian Queen Semiramis during her five year reign in 810 BC). This was the height of the city’s power and influence and Nebuchadnezzar constructed an astonishing array of temples, streets, palaces, and walls.
According to accounts, the gardens were built to cheer up Nebuchadnezzar’s homesick wife, Amyitis. Amyitis, daughter of the king of the Medes, was married to Nebuchadnezzar to create a political alliance between the nations. The land she came from, though, was green, rugged, and mountainous, and she found the flat, hot, sun hardened terrain of Mesopotamia depressing. The king decided to recreate her homeland by building an artificial mountain with rooftop gardens.
The Hanging Gardens probably did not really “hang” in the sense of being suspended from cables or ropes. The name comes from an inexact translation of the Greek word Kremastos or the Latin word Pensilis, which means not just “hanging”, but “overhanging” as in the case of a terrace or a balcony.
The Greek geographer, Strabo, who described the gardens in the first century BC, wrote, “It consists of vaulted terraces raised one above another, and resting upon cube shapped pillars. These are hollow and filled with earth to allow trees of the largest size to be planted. The pillars, the vaults, and terraces are constructed of baked brick and asphalt.”Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian, stated that the platforms on which the garden stood consisted of huge slabs of stone (otherwise unheard of in Babel), covered with layers of reed, asphalt, and tiles. Over this was put “a covering of sheets of lead, that the wet which drenched through the earth might not rot the foundation. Upon all these
was laid earth of a convenient depth, sufficient for the growth of the greatest trees. When the soil was laid even and smooth, it was planted with all sorts of trees, which both for greatness and beauty might delight the spectators.”
How big were the gardens? Diodorus tells us it was about 400 feet wide by 400 feet long and more than 80 feet high. Other accounts indicate the height was equal to the outer city walls. Walls that Herodotus said were 320 feet high. In any case the gardens were an amazing sight; a green, leafy, artificial mountain rising off the plain. But did it actually exist? After all, Herodotus never mentions it. But, perhaps it wasn’t impressive to him. He didn’t mention the Sphinx either.
This was one of the questions that occurred to German archaeologist Robert Koldewey in 1899. For centuries before that the ancient city of Babel was nothing but a mound of muddy debris. Though unlike many ancient locations, the city’s position was well known, nothing visible remained of its architecture. Koldewey dug on the Babel site for fourteen years and dug up many of its features including the outer walls, inner walls, foundation of the Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar’s palaces and the wide processional roadway which passed through the heart of the city.
While excavating the Southern Citadel, Koldewey discovered a basement with four-teen large rooms with stone arch ceilings. Ancient records indicated that only two locations in the city made use of stone, the north wall of the Northern Citadel, and the Hanging Gardens.
The north wall of the Northern Citadel had already been found and had, indeed, contained stone. This made it seem likely that Koldewey had found the cellar of the gardens. He continued exploring the area and discovered many of the features reported by Diodorus. Finally a room was unearthed with three large, strange holes in the floor. Koldewey concluded this had been the location of the chain pumps that raised the water to the garden’s roof. The foundations he discovered measured some 100 by 150 feet,
smaller than the measurements described by ancient historians, but still impressive. One can only wonder if Queen Amyitis was happy with her fantastic present, or if she continued to pine away for the green mountains of her homeland.
In 377 BC the city of Halicarnassus was the capital of a small kingdom along the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor. It was in that year that the ruler of the land, Hecatomnus of Mylassa, died and left control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus Hecatomnus, a local satrap to the Persians who had been ambitious and taken control of several neighboring cities and districts. Mausolus in his time extended the territory so that it included much of Southwestern Asia Minor.
Mausolus, with his queen Artemisia, ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding territory for 24 years. Mausolus, though he was descended from the local people, spoke
Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.
Then in 353 B.C. Mausolus died, leaving his queen Artemisia, who was also his sister (It was the custom in Caria for rulers to marry their own sisters), broken-hearted. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb in the known world. It became a structure so famous that Mausolus's name is now associated with all stately tombs through our modern word, mausoleum. The building was also so beautiful and unique it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Soon after construction of the tomb started Artemisia found herself in a crisis. Rhodes, an island in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Asia Minor, had been conquered by Mausolus. When the Rhodians heard of his death they rebelled and sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Knowing that the Rhodian fleet was on the way, Artemisa hid her own ships at a secret location at the east end of the city's harbour.
After troops from the Rhodian fleet disembarked to attack, Artemisia's fleet made a surprise raid, captured the Rhodian fleet, and towed it out to sea. Artemisa put her own soldiers on the invading ships and sailed them back to Rhodes. Fooled into thinking that the returning ships were their own victorious navy, the Rhodians failed to put up a defense and the city was easily captured quelling the rebellion.
The Mausoleum overlooked the city of Halicarnassus for many centuries. It was untouched when the city fell to Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. and still undamaged after attacks by pirates in 62 and 58 B.C. It stood above the city ruins for some 17 centuries.
Then a series of earthquakes shattered the columns and sent the stone chariot crashing to the ground. By 1404 A.D. only the very base of the Mausoleum was still recognizable. Crusaders, who had occupied the city from the thirteenth century onward, recycled the broken stone into their own buildings. In 1522 rumours of a Turkish invasion caused Crusaders to strengthen the castle at Halicarnassus (which was by then known as Bodrum) and much of the remaining portions of the tomb was broken up and used within the castle walls. Indeed sections of polished marble from the tomb can still be seen there today.
In 1846 the British Museum sent the archaeologist Charles Thomas Newton to search for more remains of the Mausoleum. He had a difficult job. He didn't know the exact location of the tomb and the cost of buying up all the small parcels of land in the area to look for it would have been astronomical. Instead Newton studied the accounts of ancient writers like Pliny to obtain the approximate size and location of the memorial, and then bought a plot of land in the most likely location. Digging down, Newton explored the surrounding area through tunnels he dug under the surrounding plots. He was able to
locate some walls, a staircase, and finally three of the corners of the foundation. With this knowledge, Newton was able to figure out which plots of land he needed to buy.
Newton then excavated the site and found sections of the reliefs that decorated the wall of the building and portions of the stepped roof. Also a broken stone chariot wheel, some seven feet in diameter, from the sculpture on the roof was discovered. Finally, he found the statues of Mausolus and Artemisia that had stood at the pinnacle of the building.
Today these works of art stand in the Mausoleum Room at the British Museum. There the images of Mausolus and his queen forever watch over the few broken remains of the beautiful tomb she built for him.
In the fall of 1994 a team of archaeological scuba divers entered the waters off of Alexandria, Egypt. Working beneath the surface they searched the bottom of the sea for artifacts. Large underwater blocks of stone were marked with floating masts so that an Electronic Distance Measurement station on shore could obtain their exact positions. Global positioning satellites were used to further fix the locations. The information was then fed into computers to create a detailed database of the sea floor. Ironically, these scientists were using some of the most high-tech devices available at the end of the 20th century to try and discover the ruins of one of the most advanced technological achievements of the 3rd century, B.C.: The Pharos. It was the great lighthouse of Alexandria, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
The story of the Pharos starts with the founding of the city of Alexandria by the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.. Alexander started at least 17 cities named Alexandria at different locations in his vast domain. Most of them disappeared, but Alexandria in Egypt thrived for centuries and continues even today.
Alexander the Great choose the location of his new city carefully. Instead of building it on the Nile Delta he selected a site some twenty miles to the west, so that the silt and mud carried by the river would not block the city harbour. South of the city was the marshy Lake Mareotis. After a canal was constructed between the lake and the Nile, the city had two harbours: one for Nile River traffic, and the other for Mediterranean Sea trade. Both harbours would remain deep and clear.
Alexander died soon after in 323 B.C. and the city was completed by Ptolemy Soter the new ruler of Egypt. Under Ptolemy the city became rich and prosperous. However, it needed both a symbol and a mechanism to guide the many trade ships into the busy harbour. Ptolemy authorized the building of the Pharos in 290 B.C., and when it was completed some twenty years later, it was the first lighthouse in the world and the tallest building in existence, with the exception of the Great Pyramid.
The lighthouse's designer was Sostrates of Knidos. Proud of his work, Sostrates, desired to have his name carved into the foundation. Ptolemy II, the son who ruled Egypt
after his father, refused this request wanting his own name to be the only one on the building. A clever man, Sostrates had the inscription:
SOSTRATES SON OF DEXIPHANES OF KNIDOS ON BEHALF OF ALL MARINERS TO THE SAVIOR GODS
chiseled into the foundation, then covered it with plaster. Into the plaster was chiseled Ptolemy's name. As the years went by the plaster aged and chipped away revealing Sostrates' declaration. The lighthouse was built on the island of Pharos and soon the building itself acquired the name. The connection of the name with the function became so strong that the word "Pharos" became the root of the word "lighthouse" in the French, Italian, Spanish and Romanian languages.
The lighthouse was apparently a tourist attraction. Food was sold to visitors at the observation platform at the top of the first level. A smaller balcony provided a view from the top of the eight-sided tower for those that wanted to make the additional climb. The view from there must have been impressive as it was probably 300 feet above the sea. There were few places in the ancient world where a person could ascend a man-made tower to get such a perspective. How then did the world's first lighthouse wind up on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea? Most accounts indicate that it, like many other ancient buildings, was the victim of earthquakes. It stood for 1,500 years but was damaged by tremors in 365 and 1303 A.D. Reports indicate the final collapse came in 1326. Did the divers actually find the remains of Pharos in the bottom of the harbour? Some of the larger blocks of stone found certainly seem to have come from a large building. Statues were located that may have stood at the base of the Pharos. Interestingly enough, much of the material found seems to be from earlier eras than the lighthouse. Scientists speculate that they may have been recycled in the construction of the Pharos from even older buildings.”
We have already discussed the Great Pyramid in previous classes but interestingly enough, although this pyramid is dated to great antiquity, it might not be mentioned in the Bible, which is odd, and it isn’t mentioned in secular sources until Herodotus around 450BC. Well, that’s one of the earliest sources but it is a fact worth investigating. How old really, are the pyramids on the Giza plateau?
The island of Rhodes was an important economic centre in the ancient world. It is located off the southwestern tip of Asia Minor where the Aegean Sea meets the Mediterranean. The capitol city, also named Rhodes, was built in 408 B.C. and was designed to take advantage of the island's best natural harbour on the northern coast. In 357 B.C. the island was conquered by Mausolus of Halicarnassus, fell into Persian hands in 340 B.C., and was finally captured by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C..
When Alexander died of a fever at an early age, his generals fought bitterly among themselves for control of Alexander's vast kingdom. Three of them, Ptolemy, Seleucus,
and Antigous, succeeded in dividing the kingdom among themselves. The Rhodians supported Ptolemy (who wound up ruling Egypt) in this struggle. This angered Antigous who sent his son Demetrius to capture and punish the city of Rhodes. The war was long and painful. Demetrius brought an army of 40,000 men. This was more than the entire population of Rhodes.
When Demetrius attacked the city, the defenders stopped the war machine by flooding a ditch outside the walls and mining the heavy monster in the mud. By then almost a year had gone by and a fleet of ships from Egypt arrived to assist the city. Demetrius withdrew quickly leaving the great siege tower where it was. To celebrate their victory and freedom, the Rhodians decided to build a giant statue of their patron god Helios.
They melted down bronze from the many war machines Demetrius left behind for the exterior of the figure and the super siege tower became the scaffolding for the project. According to Pliny, a historian who lived several centuries after the Colossus was built,
construction took 12 years. Other historians place the start of the work in 304 B.C..
The statue was one hundred and ten feet high and stood upon a fifty-foot pedestal near the harbour mole. Although the statue has been popularly depicted with its legs spanning the harbour entrance so that ships could pass beneath, it was actually posed in a more traditional Greek manner: nude, wearing a spiked crown, shading its eyes from the rising sun with its right hand, while holding a cloak over its left.
The architect of this great construction was Chares of Lindos, a Rhodian sculptor who was a patriot and fought in defence of the city. Chares had been involved with large scale statues before. His teacher, Lysippus, had constructed a 60-foot high likeness of Zeus. Chares probably started by making smaller versions of the statue, maybe three feet high, then used these as a guide to shaping each of the bronze plates of the skin.
The Colossus stood proudly at the harbour entrance for some fifty-six years. Each morning the sun must have caught its polished bronze surface and made the god's figure shine. Then an earthquake hit Rhodes and the statue collapsed. Huge pieces of the figure lay along the harbour for centuries.
It is said that an Egyptian king offered to pay for its reconstruction, but the Rhodians refused. They feared that somehow the statue had offended the god Helios, who used the earthquake to throw it down.
In the seventh century A.D. the Arabs conquered Rhodes and broke the remains of the Colossus up into smaller pieces and sold it as scrap metal. Legend says it took 900 camels to carry away the statue. A sad end for what must have been a majestic work of art.
In ancient times the Greeks held one of their most important festivals, The Olympic Games, in honour of the King of their gods, Zeus, who is the same god as Bel in Babylon and Baal in Syria, and ultimately, Satan himself. Like our modern Olympics, athletes travelled from distant lands, including Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt and Sicily, to compete in the games. The Olympics were first started in 776 B.C. and held at a shrine to Zeus located on the western coast of Greece in a region called Peloponnesus. The games, held every four years, helped to unify the Greek city-states. Sacred truce was declared during the games and wars were stopped. Safe passage was given to all travelling to the site, called Olympia, for the season of the games. The site consisted of a stadium (for the games) and a sacred grove, or Altis, where temples were located. The shrine to Zeus was simple in the early years, but as time went by and the games increased in importance, it became obvious that a new, larger temple, one worthy of their King of the gods, was needed. Between 470 and 460 B.C., construction on a new temple was started.
The designer was Libon of Elis and his masterpiece, The Temple of Zeus, was completed in 456 B.C.. This temple followed a design used on many large Grecian
temples. It was similar to the Parthenon in Athens and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. The temple was built on a raised, rectangular platform. Thirteen large columns supported the roof along the sides and six supported it on each end. A gently-peaked roof topped the building. The triangles, or "pediments," created by the sloped roof at the ends of the building were filled with sculpture. Under the pediments, just above the columns, was more sculpture depicting the twelve labours of Heracles, six on each end. Though the temple was considered one of the best examples of the Doric design because of its style and the quality of the workmanship, it was decided the temple alone was too simple to be worthy of the King of the gods. To remedy this, a statue was commissioned for the interior- a magnificent statue of Zeus that would become one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The sculptor chosen for this great task was a man named Phidias. He had already rendered a forty-foot high statue of the goddess Athena for the Parthenon in Athens and had also done much of the sculpture on the exterior of that temple. After his work in Athens was done, Phidias travelled to Olympia to start on what was considered his best work, the statue of Zeus. On arriving he set up a workshop to the west of the temple.
The first archaeological work on the Olympia site was done by a group of French scientists in 1829. They were able to locate the outlines of the temple and found fragments of the sculpture showing the labours of Heracles. These pieces were shipped to Paris where they are still on display today at the Louvre. The next expedition came from Germany in 1875 worked at Olympia for five summers. Over that period they were able to map out most of the buildings there, discovered more fragments of the temple's sculpture, and located the remains of the pool in the floor that contained the oil for the statue.
In the 1950's an excavation uncovered the workshop of Phidias which was discovered beneath an early Christian Church. Archaeologists found sculptor's tools, a pit for casting
bronze, clay moulds, modelling plaster and even a portion of one of the elephant's tusks which had supplied the ivory for the statue. Many of the clay moulds, which had been used to shape the gold plates, bore serial numbers which must have been used to show the place of the plates in the design.
Today the stadium at the site has been restored. Little is left of the temple, though, except a few columns. Of the statue, which was perhaps the most wonderful work at Olympia, all is now gone.
Just remember, the study of history is highly subjective and is based as much on opinion, conjecture, guesswork, and just plain bias as it is on fact. So, if one of you becomes an archaeologist or an historian don’t assume you are going to be a purely objective investigator. There is not now nor has there ever been such a thing, not in history or science.
As Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire engulf the ancient near east, some historians claim that the country of Lydia established the first standard coinage in the ancient world. Thales of Miletus, the Greek philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician, is born in present day Turkey (d. 547BC). He predicts a solar eclipse which stops a battle between the Lydians and the Medes. He then develops deductive geometry and a theorem which carries his name although he may have derived it from the Babylonians. He studies magnetism and then goes on to theorize that water is the basic element of all things. The Greeks promote the theory at this time that the world’s history was affected by a great flood or floods. Duh. This is called the “diluvial” doctrine. Philosophers Xenophanes and Anaximander are given credit for this by traditional historians, as they can not possibly acknowledge the Biblical and Godly origin of this statement of fact. Anaximander did, however, in this century, until his death, like Thales, also in 547BC, practically invent the theory of evolution, which is a basic tenet of Hinduism, concerning long ages of history and life forms developing and improving, growing into more complicated life forms although there is no evidence in nature of any one celled animal becoming a two celled animal, becoming a three celled animal, becoming an ape. Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, argues that the earth is a sphere and that the sun, moon, and stars revolve around it. He thinks the autonomous movement of these celestial objects creates music, called the music of the spheres.
Pythagoras must have read Isaiah 40:22 and Job 38:7 in the King James Bible. Just kidding.He came up with the Pythagorean Theorem which you will study in Geometry class if you are so unfortunate as to have to study Geometry (I flunked it) even though he “borrowed” the theorem from the Babylonians who developed it in about 1900BC, according to traditional historians. He is also credited with observing that the brain is the seat of higher activity, perhaps after reading the ending of Judges 19:30. Joking again.
Backing up a bit, about the 700’s the Greek poet, Hesiod, writes Theogony, the oldest surviving account on the origin of the Greek gods, and Works and Days, advice on
farming and moral life. He could have just as easily have read Genesis 6:4 for the former and Proverbs for the latter.
Greek sculptors begin experimenting with the perfect human form in their work which still affects us today. A long series of reliefs from the Assyrian palace of Sargon II at Dur Sharrukin, illustrating the conquests of the royal armies, is the first large scale narrative to describe the progress of specific events in time according to traditional historians, completely excluding the Bible narrative.
It is about this time that the main building material for Greek architecture becomes marble. The Greeks develop their basic temple structure during this time. Their architecture is named Doric, for the Dorian or mainland Greeks, Ionic for the Ionian tribes of Asia Minor and the Greek islands, and Corinthian for the Greek city-state of Corinth Archaic pottery, named for the period of Greek style called Archaic, employs black figured painting on clay that becomes orange red after firing.
Sparta, a Greek city-state, later known as a warfare state, becomes a great center of music drawing poet-musicians like Alcman, Tyrtaeus, and Terpander, who might be a mythological person. Religious festivals in Sparta include music competitions.
Artists in Crete make statues by nailing hammered sheets of bronze over a wood core. This is the predecessor of a technique called hollow bronze casting. The first truly free standing stone images of human beings are created as religious statues in Greece.
By the way, back to Pythagoras. He is credited with developing the octave, and the major and minor scales come into being according to traditional historians. I wonder how Greek music compared to the music we find described in Psalm 150?
Cyrus is predicted to be the ruler who will demand that Jerusalem be rebuilt in Isaiah 44:28. Remember, Isaiah is dead when Cyrus comes to power. Herodotus gives us an account which is also found in Trogus Pompeius’ “Justin’s History of the World” of how Cyrus was supposed to have been exposed as an infant and left for dead due to a fear by his grandfather that he would take power. A poor shepherd and his wife raise him and leave their own baby in his place to die. Then, when he is grown the shepherd reveals to him his origin. Cyrus does rise to power.
Nebuchadnezzar spent the tolls of the tribute given to him by conquered nations to beautify his capital, making Babylon the unrivaled capital of the ancient near east, the largest and most magnificent metropolis of the ancient world. The better buildings were
all made of brick and nearly all of the bricks recovered from Babylon bear the inscription, “I am Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon”.
Approaching the city the first thing you saw was a tall ziggurat, a type of pyramid, rising 65 stories, “crowned with a shrine containing a massive table of solid gold, and an
ornate bed on which, each night, some woman slept to await the pleasure of the god”, as Herodotus says. Nebuchadnezzar ruled over a land tilled by tenant farmers and slaves using ploughs drawn by oxen or stone hoes. Like the ancient Sumerians, canals were used to irrigate farmland and it produced a wide variety of cereals and grains. Milk, once rare, became a staple food source. Meat was rare and costly, but fish from the rivers were an abundant source of protein for even the poorest. Mining, as in Egypt, was extensive. The ass was used to pull the local transport, the wagon. He improved the highways and countless caravans made Babylon the wealthiest of nations.
In spite of all of this success the book of Daniel tells us of how Babylon, as a political entity, came to an end. Traditional historians say that for a few years his name disappears, then reappears, and then falls away, they claim in 562BC. Within thirty years of his death, his empire crumbles. A successor, Nabonidus preferred archaeology to progress and spent a great deal of time excavating ancient Sumeria while his own kingdom fell apart. When Cyrus and the Persians stood at the gate, it is said that the people opposed to the church-state opened the city to him and welcomed being liberated, in a manner of speaking. For two centuries Persia ruled Babylon as one of the greatest empires history has ever known.
Now, we turn to Persia and to the Medes, who helped them come to power, just as they had helped destroy Assyria. No one is certain as to the origin of the Medes. The first mention of them is on a tablet recording an expedition of Shalmaneser III into a country called Parsua, in the mountains of Kurdistan about 837BC according to Durant. There, supposedly, 27 kings ruled over 27 thinly populated states called Amadai, Madai, and Medes. The sacred scriptures of the Persians, called Zend-Avesta idealized the memory of this homeland and described it as a paradise. It is possible that the people here migrated from Central Asia where their ancestors had wandered after the flood. They found a mineral rich land in Persia with copper, iron, lead, gold, and silver, marble, and precious stones. Their first king, Deioces, founded their first capital, Ecbatana. According to Herodotus Deioces achieved power with a reputation for being just but then became a vicious tyrant.
Under his leadership the Medes became a threat to Assyria, which repeatedly invaded them. Assyria, however, was unable to put down the constant struggle for freedom. It was the greatest of Medean kings, Cyaxares, who destroyed Nineveh. The peace treaty they had with the Lydians after the eclipse foretold by Thales was sealed by the combatants drinking each other’s blood. His brief empire included Assyria, Persia, and Media.
Within a generation it was gone. The Medes gave Persia the Aryan-Indo-European language, as it is termed by historians and linguists alike. They also gave the Persians their Zoroastrian religion of good god, Ahura-Mazda, and bad god, Ahriman, and the law that Daniel and the book of Esther refer to as being unalterable. Cyaxares’ son, Astyages, immediately frittered away the kingdom in luxury and effeminate fashion. The once simple, warlike people became slaves to wealth and comfort. Astyages was a brutal tyrant
who once forced someone to eat the body of the unfortunate victim’s own son. This person, Harpagus, got his revenge by helping Cyrus the Persian take power, and instantly the Medes, who were masters of the Persians, became their servants, and Persia began its destiny to conquer the entire Near Eastern world.
Cyrus was a natural leader, the kind of which, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American philosopher said, at whose coronation all men rejoice. To quote Durant, “Royal in spirit and action, capable of wise administration as well as of dramatic conquest, generous to the defeated and loved by those who had been his enemies-no wonder the Greeks made him the subject of innumerable romances, and – to their minds- the greatest hero before Alexander.” He was handsome by all accounts and a natural leader. His ambition was his
undoing as his constant warfare resulted in his death in a campaign against an obscure tribe. Like Alexander, he created an empire but did not live to enjoy it. His one weakness was typical oriental cruelty, which his half mad son, Cambyses inherited. His attempt to conquer Egypt and add it to the empire succeeded but resulted in his complete insanity. He lost 50,000 soldiers in the desert and his campaign to conquer Carthage ended in failure.
At its greatest size, under Darius (Dar-i’-us), the Persian empire included 20 provinces or satraps embracing Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Phoenicia, Lydia, Phyrgia, Ionia, Cappadocia, Cilicia, Armenia, Assyria, the Caucasus, Babylonia, Media, Persia, modern Afghanistan and Baluchistan, India west of the Indus river, and more. Never before had history recorded so extensive an area brought under one government. Persia ruled for 200 years from the country now known to us as Iran. Quoting again from Durant, “The real basis of the royal power and imperial government was the army; an empire exists only so long as it retains its superior capacity to kill.” Japheth will be enlarged. (See Genesis 9:27).
The culture of Persia was closely akin to the Aryan culture of the invaders of India. Darius I, in an inscription at Naksh-i-Rustam, described himself as “a Persian, the son of a Persian, an Aryan of Aryan descent.” The Zoroastrians spoke of their mountainous, inhospitable land that produced such a hardy race of warriors as Airyano-vaejo, “the Aryan home”. Make note of this and remember it when we talk much later about the rise and philosophy of Adolf Hitler in Germany. As in most Near Eastern cultures and, in fact, most cultures throughout history, the common man was illiterate and devoted his entire life to farming, however primitive. Barley and wheat were their staple crops but meat was also a staple as was the drinking of a great deal of wine. When the Persians did take to writing they used the Babylonian cuneiform for their inscriptions and the Semitic alphabet for their documents. Cyrus served wine to his army and the Persian councils,
Durant tells us, never made a decision while sober. Persia had a very low level of industry and depended upon its conquered nations to produce luxuries. They, like their predecessors, did engage in great building projects and the great highway from Sardis to Susa, built by Darius I, was 1500 miles long. Also, like Assyria and Babylon before it,
the life of Persia revolved around the military rather than the political. Its wealth was based not on industry but on sheer power.
Persian government was unusually competent, though, and highly organized, as the Bible reveals. From the emperor who was called “king of kings”, called by the Greeks “Basileus” or simply, the king, down to the lowest noble governmental ruler governing was about absolute power. The king had total control over life and death and there are many stories regarding what would be regarded by us as pure cruelty but what was regarded by them as absolutely necessary for proper government. One story explains the cruelty as a father begged the emperor not to take his last and only surviving son for the army, only to watch the army march out between the two halves of that very son, cut in two by orders of the emperor in punishment for such presumption on the part of a commoner. Another story has a father only being able to compliment the emperor on his archery skills after that emperor executes his son with an arrow. This is the legacy and the consequence of permitting rulers to have absolute power.
With regard to religion, Persian divines reported that a great prophet appeared in the ancient home of the Aryans, named Zarathustra. The Greeks call him Zoroastres. He was supposedly divinely born after his guardian angel entered a plant and passed the juice onto a priest who offered a sacrifice after which a ray of heaven’s glory entered a bosom of a girl of noble lineage. Once again, Satan counterfeits Genesis 3:15, in many shapes and forms. The rest of Zarathustra’s story is interesting but very fanciful, from having his entrails filled with molten lead and not minding it one bit to his writing of the book of knowledge at the hands of the good god, Ahura-Mazda. The Zoroastrian religion is now born. It is from this that the Roman Catholic Church got their “angels with wings”, of which there are none in the Bible, and Islam received their view of heaven as a garden as opposed to the Bible’s heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. Persian religion was mixed with Persian government, as in other cultures we have discussed, and the specter of the church-state alliance always ruled over the people. For example, minor moral offenses could be punished by flogging or death, however, their idea of morality was vastly different from ours. Pedophilia was learned from the Greeks according to Herodotus in spite of the fact that the Avesta lists such behavior as the unforgivable sin.
The Persian world was eventually conquered by the Greek world militarily in the person of Alexander the Great but we will go into much more detail about that and the fourfold division of Alexander’s empire, along with Greek culture, philosophy, and science when we come to Alexander’s study as he represents the height of the Greek world. It is during that class that we will also discuss the failed attempt by Persia to conquer Europe through Greece and how the moral and physical backbone of Persia was broken at the battles of Marathon, Salamis, and Platea.
According to Ussher’s dating, Cyrus marched against Babylon in 539BC and took it in 538BC which surprised the Babylonians, who believed they could withstand a twenty year siege or so Herodotus tells us. The Medean-Persian alliance permits Darius to take
over the administration of Babylon. In 537BC Cyrus gave permission for all of the Jews to return to their country. Reading Daniel will give you a more personal look at the last part of the reign of the Babylonian kings and the first part of the reign of the Medean-Persian kings. The events of Esther take place later, beginning in 518BC. Trouble with Greece began, for the Persians, about 501BC. In 480BC, the Persian king, Xerxes, marches on Greece with an army of more than 2 million men. Persia’s attempt to subjugate Greece fails with devastating defeats at the battles of Marathon and Platea. Xerxes’ mission met its greatest failure at the naval battle of Salamis.
As Alexander the Great will represent the height of Greek military success, so will Antiochus Epiphanes reflect the utter depravity of the Greek culture. But, before we study Greece in detail let us first look to the beginnings of Rome for there are many lessons to be learned from history’s greatest man-made empire.