(ORDO NEWS) — Ancient Babylon seemed to be a mighty and indestructible state, but its greatness also rolled under the clink of glasses of the “Baltosar’s feast”.
What led the great state to collapse? It all started under the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II, who ascended the throne in 605 BC.
As a result of three military campaigns in Judea, he captured hundreds of thousands of Jews, mostly young men and women, and turned them into slaves for seventy long years.
Such deeds could not but arouse the fierce hatred of the Jewish people for the Babylonians, and they even declared the king of Babylonia the “Shadow of the Antichrist”, since the Babylonians worshiped not God, but a golden idol.
The Jewish prophet Daniel, who was enslaved along with other captive Jews, once said that he had a vision and it was said that the “whore of Babylon” would soon die.
Historical Background: The Language of Ancient Babylon
The language spoken by the ancient inhabitants of Babylon was Sumerian, also known as the ancient Akkadian or Assyro-Babylonian. All these languages were based on the same main language of ancient Mesopotamia – Akkadian.
But with the disappearance of civilizations that used this language, it gradually turned into a “dead language”, but due to the fact that the ancients left many clay cuneiform tablets, scientists managed to revive this language and now it has been studied so much that some musicians even perform ancient songs on it.
It’s amazing! “Dead language” can be heard live. Peter Pringle, a musician from Canada, performs in this language, the oldest literary and musical work of the Sumerians – “The Epic of Gilgamesh”.
The Babylonians, in response, only laughed at such predictions and it seemed to them that the Great Babylon would never fall, but soon Nebuchadnezzar II died.
This happened in 562 BC and his only son Evilmerodah (Abel-Marduk) ascended the throne, who was soon killed as a result of a palace coup arranged by the daughter of Nebuchadnezzar and her husband Niglisar ascended the throne.
But the usurpers did not manage to enjoy the power they received for a long time, soon the Persian troops approached the borders of Babylon and a fierce war began, as a result of which Niglisar was killed in battle in one of the battles.
The throne was taken by his son Labashi-Marduk, but he did not stay in power for long, since he was overthrown and killed in the same year when he became king.
This series of deaths of the rulers of Babylon, accompanied by an endless stream of conspiracies and aggravated by the ongoing war with the Persians, weakened the once great country.
The last king to take the throne of Babylon was Nabonidus. It is worth noting that Queen Nikotris did not abandon her plans for power and did not bother mourning for her dead husband and son, and managed to seduce the new king by marrying him in the same year.
In this new marriage, she gave birth to her husband a son, who was given the name Belshazzar (Bel-sar-usur).
Historical reference. The history of Belshazzar in world literature.
In world literature, the story of Belshazzar was not bypassed, and in the 16th century G. Sax published his comedy “The Comedy of Daniel”, and in the 17th century the writer Calderon presented to the public his work “Mystical and True Babylon”.
In addition, such literary works as Belshazzar – an oratorio by Handel published in 1744 and Belshazzar’s Feast – an oratorio by William Walton published in 1931 are known.
In 550 BC, King Nabonidus declared Belshazzar “accompanying” and put him in command of the army. In addition, Belshazzar was in charge of tax collection and issues related to religion (worship of the gods).
In 539 BC, the Persian king Cyrus II launched the last and most decisive attack on Babylon. King Nabonidus knew about the beginning of the offensive in advance and it would seem that he managed to prepare his army for the upcoming invasion, but he did not take into account one thing – betrayal.
As soon as the Persian army invaded the territory of Babylon, the high-ranking governors of King Nabonidus, who ruled the province of Gutium, went over to the side of the invaders.
This province was ruled by the governor of Ugbaru, who not only met the Persians with open arms, but also led the army of the Persians going to capture the capital of Babylon.
The army of Babylon, led by King Nabonidus, came out to meet the Persians and a grandiose battle took place between the two armies in which the troops of the Babylonians were defeated, and King Nabonidus fled in disgrace.
There remained one undefeated citadel – the capital of Babylon, the defense of which, after the flight of the king, was headed by the “co-ruler” Belshazzar. In fact, from that moment on, he was the real king of Babylon.
When the Persian army approached the walls of Babylon, Belshazzar led his army to meet them, but as a result of a fleeting battle, they failed to defeat the Persians and the remnants of the army retreated to the city behind the fortress walls.
The Persians besieged the city, but Babylon was ready for such a development of events and significant reserves of provisions were stocked up in advance, which would have made it possible to withstand even a many-year siege.
But well-fortified Babylon had one weak point – the river flowing through it and feeding its inhabitants with fresh water. The Persian king Cyrus divided his army.
He sent one part to the place where the riverbed came out from under the fortress walls, and with the second part of his army he dug a diversion channel and diverted the riverbed to the lake located near the city.
The riverbed that passed through the city became shallow. The second part of the Persian army was waiting for this moment and entered the city under the fortress walls along the dry riverbed.
Historical reference. The expression “Belshazzar’s feast”
The story of the king of Babylon – Belshazzar left its mark on the history of human civilization, and there is even the expression “Belshazzar’s feast”, it is used today
It means – godlessness, licentiousness, bacchanalia arranged at the most inopportune time for this. This expression is similar in meaning to the definition “Feast during the plague.”
It would seem that the defenders of the city should have seen these preparations of the enemy, but the Babylonians did not know that the Persians diverted the riverbed to the last.
Even when the Persians had already entered the city and its outskirts were occupied by them in the center of Babylon, no one knew about it.
The fact is that on this day there was a big holiday in the city and all its inhabitants feasted, danced and had fun, unaware that the city had already been captured by the Persians.
Babylon had already fallen, but its ruler and defender Belshazzar had no idea about this and was feasting in his palace.
Thousands of courtiers, concubines, wives of nobles and their husbands, army commanders and other close associates of the king participated in this festival. Wine flowed like a river.
At some point, King Belshazzar, drunk on libations, ordered to bring gold and silver vessels that had once been captured by the Babylonians in Jerusalem.
Historical reference. Belshazzar’s feast in poetry.
Illuminating the high hall, Marble of pink columns, Incense from deep bowls, Golden throne in sapphires. Reclining on sofas, Guests drinking from cups to the bottom, Eating and contemplating, Naked bodies.
Here the beauties dance, And the movements of the stomach, Inflame such a passion, That the guests are not up to wine. The king sits on the throne, not listening to anyone,
Fans flicker, All please him. Here are four musicians, Together they make sounds, In multi-colored bloomers,
Young men sing songs. Black-skinned slaves, They carry dishes on their heads, The king’s plate is getting cold, Is there no time for food? No, they will please nothing, Their master is inconsolable, The servants look with trepidation.
It became quiet for a moment, Thunder suddenly struck from the ceiling, The guests fled, Draws a fiery hand: “Mene, tekel, fares!”.
Lines from the poem “Hadith” by the poet Mikhail Shifman
As soon as he pronounced his order, human hands appeared in the air, which wrote mysterious words on the wall: Mene, tekel, peres (meneh, tekel, upharsin). In translation means: Calculated, weighed, divided.
This miracle was observed by all those present and what was happening caused reverent horror even among the king.
Belshazzar exclaimed, “Whoever reads and explains what is inscribed, I will shower him with gold and he will be the third ruler of my kingdom!”
But neither the nobles nor the royal sages could give an explanation, and then Belshazzar’s mother, Queen Nitocris, offered to turn to the prophet Daniel for clarification.
Daniel agreed and explained that the hands that inscribed the inscription are the hands of God himself and this means the following: God weighed your kingdom on the scales and found it very light, therefore your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
Historical reference. “The Feast of Belshazzar” in the cinema.
Cinematography also did not bypass this historical event, and back in 1916, in the era of silent films, a film was released that can be compared in terms of the scale of filming with such modern blockbusters as Star Wars.
“Intolerance” – a film released in 1916, played a big role in the development of the entire world cinema. It is still considered a masterpiece of the silent film era.
The film ran for three and a half hours and consisted of 4 episodes: “Mother and the Law”, “The Life and Sufferings of Christ”, “Bartholomew’s Night” and “The Fall of Babylon”.
Just think about it – 650 thousand dollars were spent on shooting the episode in which the feast of Voltasar was shown! 16,000 extras were involved, and 7 thousand dollars were paid for the queen’s outfit and another thousand for her robe.
Historical costumes rented cost the creators of the picture another 360 thousand and 300 thousand went to the construction of scenery. In total, two and a half million dollars were spent, which at that time was a very huge amount.
Director David Griffith applied new shooting methods, several cameras were working on the set at once, shooting from different directions and heights, one of the cameras was installed on a hot air balloon.
That same night the Chaldean king Belshazzar was killed. And so Babylon fell. However, if we take into account the cuneiform tablets that have survived to our times, then we can understand that his fate was predetermined in advance.
Only King Belshazzar and a detachment of soldiers loyal to him tried to defend the city, and when the Persians had already penetrated its walls, only he and his soldiers locked themselves in the palace fortress of Bit-Saggu in order to keep the last defense here.
The merchants, the nobles, and most of the city garrison simply surrendered to the enemy or, moreover, welcomed his occupation of the city. The traitor Ukbaru ascended the throne, and soon all of Babylonia became part of the Persian state.
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