Many of us in the 21st century know the names of the Egyptian gods from our museums and traveling exhibits: Osiris, Isis, Re, Anubis. We know Greek gods from our childhood studies and from the Percy Jackson novels: Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Chronos. We know Roman gods from the names of our planets: Mercury, Venus, Jupiter. We even know a few norse gods from comic books and the days of the week: Tyr (twia as in twia’s day or Tuesday), Odin (wodin as in wodin’s day or Wednesday), Thor (Thursday), Freya (the leader of the Valkyries, Friday). Those who have done bible studies might even recognize a Canaanite god or two such as Baal or Anat.
Sidenote: It is somewhat disturbing how we have immortalized these mythological gods into our everyday language.
But most of us don’t know much about the gods of Babylon: Marduk, Bel, Nebo, the dragon. In some ways they were the worse and craftiest in the insult to God. Many of the Babylonian polytheistic religious documents simply co-opted the word of God. (Definition: Co-opt: (a) divert to or use in a role different from the usual or original one (b) adopt (an idea or policy) for one’s own use.). The Atrahasis Epic, the Enuma Elish (creation story), The Gilgamesh Epic (flood), Hammurabi’s code (law at Mr. Sinai), The Babylonian Theodicy (story of Job).
Time and again, the Babylonians took the holy and diverted it into a different message, re-crafting it for their own use and own glory. Time and again, they remove God and retell the story. Any place it gets too close to God, insert another lie, another explanation, another twist to bring it closer to the source of the lie (example, instead of God creating the earth without form/the deep, Genesis 1:2 Hebrew “tehom”; the Babylonian account starts with the gods arising out of the waters of the deep as the god of fresh water Apsu combines with the goddess of salt water Tiamat – a cognate of the word tehom).
We see this same pattern in the story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall. He takes the holy articles from the temple, that had been sacked from the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonians years earlier, and uses them for a party honoring himself.
I think one of the reasons the name Babylon is a stand-in for a more significant group, place and time, is because this represents Satan’s work at its purest level. Even in the garden, Satan didn’t come out with anew story, a complete lie. Instead, he twisted what God had said, he asked questions, he challenged, he co-opted. When satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he did the same.
We see this all around us today. Not only do we swim in the language of all of these false gods and their names in our days, months, planets, time, but we swim in the co-opted truth. We teach children in school Hammurabi’s code (almost 300 laws many based around eye-for-an-eye as a very broad legalistic punishment – but which also includes the provision that “If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss.”), but we refuse to allow access to the 10 commandments or the laws of Exodus 21:22-25 (If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely…there is serious injury (to the child), you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise). We deny a creator, but are perfectly content with “a big bang”. We deny God, but praise “the universe”.
Our times, our nations and our neighbors are far closer to Babylonians than any of us wants to admit.
sitting on beast, dressed in purple and scarlet and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls, golden cup in hand filled w/ abom things and filth of adulteries, name on forehead was a mystery, drunk with blood of God’s martyred holy people === scarlet beast covered with blasphemous names. The beast had 7 heads and 10 horns (beast out of the sea from Rev 13)
she was drunk on their blood
sacked the temple and tore it down, slaughtered zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, all the nobles, then put out his eyes and bound him, Daniel interprets writing on the wall for Belshazar, king kills all other wise men, condemned because defiled temple articles
The things of the earth are temporary. They are created. But they are tangible and comparable and draw people to them. It gives a sense of ownership, which is false, since we too are only temporarily on this planet.