Babel Rises Again

Babylon is both a historical kingdom and a symbol of the recurring rise of the World Empire. In the first chapter of Daniel, Babylon is called the “Land of Shinar,” a link to the Tower of Babel in Genesis and the founding of the imperial city in Mesopotamia. That same incident is alluded to in the third chapter when King Nebuchadnezzar gathered all the nations of the Earth to pay homage to the great and “high” golden image that he built.

The Neo-Babylonian Empire was not a new political entity. It had an ancient pedigree, and in the New Testament, “Babylon” becomes a cipher for the latest incarnation of the World Empire, an entity that periodically appears on the Earth.

Skyscraper - Photo by James Lewis on Unsplash
[Skyscraper - Photo by James Lewis on Unsplash]

Genesis, God thwarted the completion of the high tower in the “Land of Shinar.” This caused the diversity and spread of languages and tribes across the Earth. That story provides the reader of Daniel with the true origins of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.

  • (Daniel 1:1-2) – “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Jerusalem, and laid siege against it; and the Lord gave into his hand Jehoiakim king of Judah and a part of the vessels of the house of God, and he brought them into the LAND OF SHINAR into the house of his gods, and the vessels brought he into the treasure-house of his gods.”

The opening paragraph of Daniel builds on the story of the Tower of Babel, the time when the “whole earth was of one language and one speech.” The name ‘Shinar’ is the Hebrew equivalent of ‘Sumer,’ the first known civilization located in Mesopotamia.

The people of Shinar begin to build a city with a high tower “in the plain” that would “reach the heavens and thus make us a name, lest we be scattered across the whole earth.” The description reflects the Sumerian culture where individual cities featured temples built on tiered mounds that formed the highest point in the city. Each was dedicated to the city’s chief deity, and each functioned as the city’s civil, economic, and religious center.

Originally, Yahweh commanded Adam to “multiply, replenish, and subdue the earth.” That same command was reiterated to Noah after the flood. But humanity chose instead to move to Mesopotamia to build a new civilization and make a name for itself. Consistently in the Bible, Babylon is characterized by arrogance and self-worship - (Genesis 1:28, 9:1, Isaiah 14:13-14, 63:12-14, Jeremiah 32:20).

If humanity united under one language, the wickedness of mankind would know no bounds. By confounding their language, God caused the nations to spread throughout the Earth, and He stopped the first attempt at establishing a centralized global State. Thus, the idolatrous ambitions of Babylon were delayed for a time. However, under King Nebuchadnezzar, Shinar began to rise once more.

In this way, the king of the latest version of “Babel” attempted to reverse God’s ancient judgment, wittingly or not. Having conquered Judah, Nebuchadnezzar set out to gather different ethnic groups and nations to his rebuilt city to be educated in the “language of Babylon,” and to honor his idolatrous “great golden image.”


Like the story in Genesis, Nebuchadnezzar gathered captives to Babylon, the great city that he built. Under his direction, the different tribes and peoples under his dominion began to learn the “language of the Chaldeans.” What the inhabitants of ancient Babel began to do, Nebuchadnezzar attempted to complete.

Nebuchadnezzar also “set up” a great golden image of exceptional “height” in the “plain of Dura,” then decreed that “all peoples, races, and tongues” must render homage to it.  He gathered representatives from every province and nation “to the dedication of the image” - (Daniel 3:1-8).

Thus, the whole Earth was summoned to one place to be united under Babylonian rule, and to pay homage to Nebuchadnezzar’s “high” image.

The verbal parallels are deliberate.  Just as the earlier inhabitants united to build a city and high tower to honor and glorify their “name,” so the current king of Babylon presumed to gather all humanity under his sovereignty.


In the Book of Revelation, “Babylon” becomes a cosmic entity that wages war against the “Lamb” and his people. This final incarnation of “Babylon” is the World City set in contrast to the coming “City of New Jerusalem.” She is the “Great Whore” that is full of “abominations” and every “unclean thing.” Her hands are stained with the “blood of the prophets and saints that have been slain on the earth.” She is characterized by her cruelty, arrogance, and self-worship – (Revelation 17:1-6, 18:24).

Her influence and mischief will impact the entire Earth, not just Mesopotamia or the Near East. The key to her power is the control of global commerce, and economic sanction is her weapon of choice – (Revelation 18:1-24).

This entity spans History. She rides the “Beast from the Sea” that has “seven heads and ten horns,” the monster that has “Ascended from the Sea” repeatedly over the centuries. The “seven heads” represent seven kingdoms or empires. Five of them had fallen by the time John received his vision. One existed in his day, and the seventh and final incarnation was yet to come. “Babylon” has been an ever-present reality throughout the existing age – (Revelation 17:7-12).

Likewise, today we see “Babel” rising again, another Empire ascending from the “Sea” or “Abyss.” Already she is imposing economic control over nations, spreading her corruption across the Earth, and suppressing groups and individuals that refuse to pay the “Beast” and its “great image” the homage both she and it demand of one and all.