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The Neo-Babylonian Empire and Babylon in the Latter Prophets (Harvard Semitic Monographs)

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0788505799
ISBN-10: 0788505793
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Product Details

  • Series: Harvard Semitic Monographs
  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Scholars Pr (January 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0788505793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0788505799
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,591,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on July 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This "book" is really a doctoral dissertation- and like most such dissertations, it emphasizes comprehensiveness over readability. Having said that, it was occasionally interesting - mostly insofar as it backed up Biblical accounts.

The dissertation is divided into three parts: (1) how Babylonians saw themselves, (2) archaelogical evidence about how Babylonians administer (or failed to administer) conquered territories, and (3) how the Hebrew prophets saw Babylon.

As to the first: based on a review of Babylonian imperial texts (mostly temple inscriptions, etc.) Babylonians definitely saw themselves as kinder and gentler than the Assyrian Empire (which was crushed by Babylon sometime in the 600s). Assyrian documents tended to emphasize the king's role as ruler of the world, and the smiting of numerous enemies. Babylonian documents tended to emphasize the king's role as protector of humanity, as well as his role as servant of the Babylonian gods.

On the other hand, the realities of Babylonian administration suggest that the Babylonians "protected" subject peoples out of all they owned. According to the author, pottery virtually disappeared from Judean cities during the late 6th century BCE, indicating reduced economic activity -in other words, that Babylon razed those cities. This squares with Biblical attacks on Babylonian rapacity, which imply a one-way flow of people and goods to Babylon.

Vanderhooft's discussion of the prophets tends to emphasize that the prophets knew a lot about Babylon, by showing consistencies between prophetic writings and Babylonian culuture. For example, Babylon sought to defend itself against invaders through an extensive system of water-based fortifications such as moats comprised of extensive reed-marshes. Jeremiah, in predicting Babylon's comeuppance, suggests that Babylon's waters will be dried up, and Biblical references to the "waters of Babylon" perhaps refer to the city's water defenses.
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