Easton's Bible Dictionary
Chaldeans, The inhabitants of the country of which Babylon
was the capital. They were so called till the time of the Captivity ( 2
Kings 25 ; Isaiah
23:13 ), when, particularly in the Book of ( Daniel
5:30 ; 9:1
), the name began to be used with special reference to a class of learned men
ranked with the magicians and astronomers. These men cultivated the ancient Cushite
language of the original inhabitants of the land, for they had a "learning" and
a "tongue" ( Daniel
1:4 ) of their own. The common language of the country at that time had become
assimilated to the Semitic dialect, especially through the influence of the Assyrians,
and was the language that was used for all civil purposes. The Chaldeans were
the learned class, interesting themselves in science and religion, which consisted,
like that of the ancient Arabians and Syrians, in the worship of the heavenly
bodies. There are representations of this priestly class, of magi and diviners,
on the walls of the Assyrian palaces.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
It appears that the Chaldeans (Kaldai or Kaldi ) were
in the earliest times merely one out of many Cushite tribes inhabiting the great
alluvial plain known afterwards as Chaldea or Babylonia. Their special seat was
probably that southern portion of the country which is found to have so late retained
the name of Chaldea. In process of time, as the Kaldi grew in power, their name
gradually prevailed over those of the other tribes inhabiting the country; and
by the era of the Jewish captivity it had begun to be used generally for all the
inhabitants of Babylonia. It appears that while, both in Assyria and in later
Babylonia, the Shemitic type of speech prevailed for civil purposes, the ancient
Cushite dialect was retained, as a learned language for scientific and religious
literature. This is no doubt the "learning" and the "tongue" to which reference
it made in the book of Daniel, ( Daniel
1:4 ) The Chaldeans were really the learned class; they were priests, magicians
or astronomers, and in the last of the three capacities they probably effected
discoveries of great importance. In later times they seem to have degenerated
into mere fortune-tellers.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
kal-de'-a, kal-de'-anz (kasdim, 'erets kasdim; Chaldaia,
"Kasdim," "land of Kasdim" or "the Chaldeans," is the usual designation, in the
Old Testament, for the land and the people (Jeremiah 50:10 ; 51:24 ; 24:5 ; 25:12).
The corresponding Greek form with l for s follows the Assyr-Bab Kaldu, mat Kaldi,
"Chaldean, land of the Chaldeans." Kasdim is possibly connected with the name
of Kesed (Kesedh), nephew of Abraham (Genesis 22:22), and may be derived from
the Assyr-Bab root kasadu, "to capture," suggesting that the Chaldeans were originally
tribes of nomadic plunderers (compare Job
1. Geographical Position:
Seats of the Chaldeans: In its widest acceptation, Chaldea is the name of the
whole of Babylonia, owing to the fact that the Chaldeans had given more than one
king to the country. In the strict sense, however, their domain was the tract
at the Northwest end of the Persian Gulf, which was often called by the Assyro-Babylonians
mat Tamtim, "the Land of the Sea," a province of unknown extent. When these tribes
migrated into Babylonia is uncertain, as is also their original home; but as they
are closely related to the Arameans, it is possible that their first settlements
lay in the neighborhood of the Aramean states bordering on the Holy Land. Tiglath-pileser
IV (742 BC) speaks of the ra'asani or chiefs of the Kaldu, and the mention of
numerous Aramean tribes in Babylonia itself shows that their example of settling
there soon found imitators, as did the Anglo-Saxons when they invaded Britain.
Among the Chaldean tribes in Babylonia may be mentioned Bit Amukkani, whose capital
was Sapia; Bit Yakin which furnished the dynasty to which Merodach-baladan II
belonged; and probably also Bit Dakkuri, as all three lay near the Persian Gulf.
Sargon of Assyria excludes Bit-Amukkani and Bit-Dakkuri, and speaks of "the whole
of the land of Chaldea, as much as there is; the land of Bit-Yakini, on the shore
of the Salt River (the Persian Gulf), to the border of Tilmun" (the island of
Bahrein and the adjacent mainland) (Pavement Inscr., IV, ll. 82, 83, 85, 86).
It was probably the influence of theBabylonians among whom they settled which
changed these nomads into city-dwellers. Sennacherib refers to 75 (var. 89) strong
cities and fortresses of Chaldea, and 420 (var. 800) smaller towns which were
around them; and there were also Chaldeans (and Arameans) in Erech, Nippur (Calneh),
Kis, Hursag-kalama, Cuthah, and probably Babylon.
2. Originally Sumero-Akkadian:
The "land of the sea" (mat Tamtim)is mentioned in the chronicle of the early Babylonian
kings (rev. 14) as being governed by Ea-gamil, contemporary of Samsu-Titana (circa
1900 BC), but at that period it was apparently one of the original Sumero-Akkadian
states of Babylonia. It is doubtful whether, at that early date, the Chaldeans
had entered Babylonia and founded settlements there, though the record mentions
Arameans somewhat later on.
3. History of the Chaldean Tribes:
One of the earliest references to the Chaldeans is that of Shalmaneser II of Assyria,
who, on invading Babylonia in the eponymy of Belbunaya (851 BC), captured the
city Baqani, which belonged to Adini of the Chaldean tribe of Dakuri. After plundering
and destroying the place, Shalmaneser attacked Enzudi, the capital, whereupon
Adini submitted and paid tribute. On this occasion Yakini of "the Land of the
Sea," also paid tribute, as did Musallim-Marduk, son of Amukkani (the Bit-Amukkani
mentioned above). The next Assyrian ruler to mention the country is Adadnirari
III (810 BC), who speaks of all the kings of the Chaldeans, which evidently refers
to the various states into which the Chaldean tribes were divided. Later on, Sargon
of Assyria, in his 12th year, decided to break the power of Merodach-baladan,
who had made himself master of Babylon. To effect this, he first defeated the
Gambulians, who were the Chaldean king's supporters, and the Elamites, his allies
over the border. The Chaldean, however, did not await the Assyrian king's attack,
but escaped to Yatburu in Elam, leaving considerable spoil behind him.
4. Merodach-baladan and Sargon of Assyria:
Though extensive operations were carried out, and much booty taken, the end of
the campaign seems only to have come two years later, when Dur-Yakin was destroyed
by fire and reduced to ruins. In the "Annals of Hall XIV" Sargon claims to have
taken Merodach-baladan prisoner, but this seems doubtful. Merodach-baladan fled,
but returned and mounted the throne again on Sargon's death in 705 BC. Six months
later Sennacherib, in his turn, attacked him, and he again sought safety in flight.
A Chaldean chief named Suzubu, however, now came forward, and proclaimed himself
king of Babylon, but being defeated, he likewise fled. Later on, Sennacherib attacked
the Chaldeans at Nagitu and other settlements in Elamite-territory which Merodach-baladan
and his followers had founded.
After the death of Merodach-baladan, yet another Chaldean, whom Sennacherib calls
likewise Suzubu, but whose full name was Musezib-Marduk, mounted the Babylonian
throne. This ruler applied for help against Sennacherib of Assyria to Umman-menanu,
the king of Elam, who, taking the bribe which was offered, supported him with
an armed force, and a battle was fought at Chalule on the Tigris, in which Sennacherib
claims the victory--probably rightly. Musezib-Marduk reigned 4 years, and was
taken prisoner by his whilom ally, Umman-menanu, who sent him to Assyria.
7. Merodach-baladan's Son:
In the reign of Esarhaddon, Nabu-zer-napistilisir, one of the sons of Merodach-baladan,
gathered an army at Larsa, but was defeated by the Assyrians, and fled to Elam.
The king of that country, however, wishing to be on friendly terms with Esarhaddon,
captured him and put him to death.
This prince had a brother named Na'id-Marduk, who, not feeling himself safe in
the country which had acted treacherously toward his house, fled, and made submission
to Esarhaddon, who received him favorably, and restored to him the dominion of
the "Land of the Sea." This moderation secured the fidelity of the Chaldeans,
and when the Elamite Urtaku sent inviting them to revolt against their suzerain,
they answered to the effect that Na'id-Marduk was their lord, and they were the
servants of the king of Assyria. This took place probably about 650 BC, in the
reign of Esarhaddon's son Assur-bani-apli (see OSNAPPAR).
Hostility to Assyria, however, continued to exist in the tribe, Palia, grandson
of Merodach-baladan, being one of the prisoners taken by Assur-bani-apli's troops
in their operations against the Gambulians (a Babylonian, and perhaps a Chaldean
tribe) later on. It was only during the struggle of Samas-sumukin (Saosduchimos),
king of Babylon, Assur-banl-apli's brother, however, that they took sides against
Assyria as a nationality. This change was due to the invitation of the Babylonian
king--who may have been regarded, rather than Assur-bani-apli, as their overlord.
The chief of the Chaldeans was at that time another grandson of Merodach-baladan,
Nabu-bel-sumati, who seized the Assyrians in his domain, and placed them in bonds.
The Chaldeans suffered, with the rest, in the great defeat of the Babylonian and
allied forces, when Babylon and the chief cities of the land fell. Mannu-ki-Babili
of the Dakkurians, Ea-sum-ikisa of Bit-Amukkani, with other Chaldean states, were
punished for their complicity in Samas-sum-ukin's revolt, while Nabu-bel-sumati
fled and found refuge at the court of Indabigas, king of Elam. Assur-bani-apli
at once demanded his surrender, but civil war in Elam broke out, in which Indabigas
was slain, and Ummanaldas mounted the throne.
His Tragic End:
This demand was now renewed, and Nabu-bel-sumati, fearing that he would be surrendered,
decided to end his life. He therefore directed his armor-bearer to dispatch him,
and each ran the other through with his sword. The prince's corpse, with the head
of his armor-bearer, were then sent, with some of the Chaldean fugitives, to Assyria,
and presented to the king. Thus ended, for a time, Chaldean ambition in Babylonia
and in the domain of eastern politics.
11. The Chaldeans Forge Ahead:
With the death of Assur-bani-apli, which took place about 626 BC, the power of
Assyria fell, his successors being probably far less capable men than he. This
gave occasion for many plots against the Assyrian empire, and the Chaldeans probably
took part in the general movement. In the time of Saracus (Sin-sarra-iskun of
Assyria, circa 620 BC) Busalossor would seem to have been appointed general of
the forces in Babylonia in consequence of an apprehended invasion of barbarians
from the sea (the Persian Gulf) (Eusebius, Chronicon, book i).
12. Nabopolassar's Revolt against Assyria:
The new general, however, revolted against the Assyrians, and made himself master
of Babylonia. As, in other cases, the Assyrians seem to have been exceedingly
faithful to their king, it has been thought possible that this general, who was
none other than Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadpolassar's rezzar, was not
really an Assyrian, but a Babylonian, and probably a Chaldean. This theory; if
correct, would explain how Babylonia, in its fullest sense, obtained the name
of Chaldea, and was no longer known as the land of Shinar (Genesis 10:10). The
reputation of Merodach-baladan, the contemporary of Hezekiah, may have been partly
responsible for the change of name.
13. The Chaldeans as Learned Men:
It was not in the restricted sense, but as a synonym of Babylonian, that the name
Chaldean obtained the signification of "wise man." That the Chaldeans in the restricted
and correct sense were more learned than, or even as learned as, the Babylonians
in general, is unlikely. Moreover, the native inscriptions give no indication
that this was the case. The Babylonians in general, on the other hand, were enthusiastic
students from very early times. From their inscriptions, it is certain that among
their centers of learning may be classed Sippar and Larsa, the chief seats of
sun-worship; Nippur, identified with the Calneh of Genesis 10:10; Babylon, the
capital; Borsippa in the neighborhood of Babylon; Ur of the Chaldees; and Erech.
There is, also, every probability that this list could be extended, and will be
extended, when we know more; for wherever an important temple existed, there was
to be found also a priestly school. "The learning of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 1:4
; 2:2 ; 4:7 ; 5:7 , 11) comprised the old languages of Babylonia (the two dialects
of Sumerian, with a certain knowledge of Kassite, which seems to have been allied
to the Hittite; and other languages of the immediate neighborhood); some knowledge
of astronomy and astrology; mathematics, which their sexagesimal system of numeration
seems to have facilitated; and a certain amount of natural history. To this must
be added a store of mythological learning, including legends of the Creation,
the Flood (closely resembling in all its main points the account in the Bible),
and apparently also the Temptation and the Fall. They had likewise a good knowledge
of agriculture, and were no mean architects, as the many celebrated buildings
of Babylonia show--compare not only the descriptions of the Temple of Belus (see
BABEL, TOWER OF) and the Hanging Gardens, but also the remains of Gudea's great
palace at Lagas (Tel-loh), where that ruler, who lived about 2500 BC, is twice
represented as an architect, with plan and with rule and measure. (These statues
are now in the Louvre.) That their architecture never attained the elegance which
characterized that of the West, is probably due to the absence of stone, necessitating
the employment of brick as a substitute (Genesis 11:3).
See BABYLONIA; SHINAR.
T. G. Pinches
astronomers, babylon, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, chaldeans, chaldees, define, fortune-tellers, kaldai, kasdim, learned class, magicians, priests