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The capital of the Empire of Babylonia, which crushed Judah in 589 BC, thereby ending the Promised Kingdom. It's been hated ever since. Back before there was Nazi Germany, people who disagreed with you might juxtapose you to Babylon. Martin Luther's famous “The Whore of Babylon,” for instance, to reference the Papacy.

It's 40 miles south of Baghdad. Just ruins now, but it was once the greatest city on earth, featuring one of the seven wonders of the ancient world: The Gardens of Babylon. One of its greatest rulers, Hammurabi, gave us the first set of codified laws: Hammurabi's Code. It was where Alexander the Great proposed to set up his new ecumenical empire in 323 . . . And where he died, in 323 BC, of a hangover, clutching a copy of the Iliad.

It had pretty much been the queen city of the mideast for 1,000 years at the time the prophet Isaiah said it would become abandoned, deserted, and be “full of howling creatures.” It would be like predicting such a thing about New York City today, times ten, before nuclear weapons and the ending of the Planet of the Apes made such a thing very plausible in our imaginations. In Isaiah's time, such a prophesy was laughable, but by the time of the Emperor Severus in 199 AD, it had become completely deserted. Less than 200 years later, a Christian told Jerome that he passed through it and it was full of nothing but wild animals. To this day, it's a wasteland. Nothing but ruins and debris.