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Chaldea or Chaldaea (Arabic كلدان‎, Kāldān[1][2]), "the Chaldeans" of the KJV Old Testament, was a marshy land located in Southern Iraq and Kuwait which came to rule Babylon. Tribes of settlers who arrived in the region in 625-539 B.C.E. became known as the Chaldeans. Quite where they originally came from is unknown.

The 11th dynasty of the Kings of Babylon (6th century BC) is conventionally known to historians as the Chaldean Dynasty. Their kingdom in the southern portion of Babylonia lay chiefly on the right bank of the Euphrates. Though the name came to be commonly used to refer to the whole of Mesopotamia, Chaldea proper was the vast plain in the south formed by the deposits of the Euphrates and the Tigris, extending to about four hundred miles along the course of these rivers, and about a hundred miles in average width.


The land

Chaldea was an ancient name for the marshy lands in the far south of Mesopotamia, at the head of the Persian Gulf – present day Iraq and Kuwait. It is called in Chaldean mat Kaldi—that is, "land of Chaldea"—but there is also used, apparently synonymously, the expression mât Bit Yakin. It would appear that Bit Yakin was of the land; and the king of Chaldea is also called the king of Bit Yakin, just as the kings of Bab the estuaries of the Tigris and Euphrates, which then discharged their waters through narrow bonds and obtained the ascendency over all Babylonia.

In 652 BC a series of wars broke out in the Assyrian Empire over who should rule. These wars greatly weakened the empire. Sensing this weakness, the Chaldeans (kal-Dee-unz), led the medes in attacking the Assyrians. In 612 BC they destroyed Nineveh and the Assyrian empire. In its place, the Chaldeans set up a new empire of their own. Nebuchadnezzar, the most famous Chaldean king lasted only 72 years after a 200 year Assyrian Empire.


Important Kaldu cities were Bit-Yâkin (the original homeland at the Persian Gulf), Bit-Dakuri, Bit-Adini, Bit-Amukkani, and Bit-Shilani. King Ukinzir (Greek: Chinzeros) conquered Babylonia, ruling 731-729, but was again defeated by Tiglath-Pileser III. During the reign of Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727), Babylonia saw a significant influx of Kaldu settlers.

Merodach-Baladan of Bit-Yâkin gained the support of the Elamites and was king of Babylonia several times between 721 and 710, being deposed by the Assyrians, but always succeeding in seizing the reins of power again. In 702, he once more campaigned against Sennacherib before being finally defeated at Kish. King Mushezib-Marduk was king just before Sennacherib's sack of Babylon in 689 BC.

It was only under Nabopolassar in 625 that the Kaldu attained lasting control over Babylon, after having defeated Assyria and Egypt at Karchemish, founding the Chaldean dynasty, which lasted until 539 and the rise of the Achaemenid Empire.

Chaldean settlement ties the Middle East to early European history as Chaldean colonists led by Aschenez are thought to have been amongst the founders[3] of the city now known as Reggio Calabria, on the east side of the straight between Sicily and Calabria, Italy. The Chaldean colonization made Reggio one of first cities of Europe, according to local historians.[4]

When the Chaldean empire was absorbed into the Achaemenid, the name Chaldean lost its meaning as the name of an ethnic group, and came to be applied to a class. The Persians found the Chaldeans masters of reading and writing, and especially versed in all forms of incantation, in sorcery, witchcraft, and the magical arts. Thus, in Greek, "Chaldean" came to acquire the meaning of "astrologer" (e.g. in Strabo). In this sense it is also used in the Book of Daniel (Dan. 1:4, 2:2ff.).

See also


  1. ^ Ptolemy 5.19
  2. ^ Myers, Allen C. (1987). "Chaldea". The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-2402-1. 
  3. ^ “Ippolita: Sorella del Brigante Musolino,” By Pietro A. Romeo, published by Laruffa Editore, 2007, p20, Excerpt translated by Nella Cotrupi.
  4. ^ “Ippolita: Sorella del Brigante Musolino,” By Pietro A. Romeo, published by Laruffa Editore, 2007, p20, Excerpt translated by Nella Cotrupi.

External links

This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.


Redirecting to Chaldea

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CHALDAEA. The expressions "Chaldaea r" and "Chaldaeans" are frequently used in the Old Testament as equivalents for "Babylonia" and "Babylonians." Chaldaea was really the name of a country, used in two senses. It was first applied to the extreme southern district, whose ancient capital was the city of Bit Yakin, the chief seat of the renowned Chaldaean rebel Merodach-baladan, who harassed the Assyrian kings Sargon and Sennacherib. It is not as yet possible to fix the exact boundaries of the original home of the Chaldaeans, but it may be regarded as having been the long stretch of alluvial land situated at the then separate mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates, which rivers now combine to flow into the Persian Gulf in the waters of the majestic Shatt el `Arab. The name "Chaldaea," however, soon came to have a more extensive application. In the days of the Assyrian king Rammannirari III. (812-783 B.C.), the term mat Kaldu covered practically all Babylonia. Furthermore, Merodach-baladan was called by Sargon II. (722-705 B.C.) "king of the land of the Chaldaeans" and "king of the land of Bit Yakin" after the old capital city, but there is no satisfactory evidence that Merodach-baladan had the right to the title "Babylonian." The racial distinction between the Chaldaeans and the Babylonians proper seems to have existed until a much later date, although it is almost certain that the former were originally a Semitic people. That they differed from the Arabs and Aramaeans is also seen from the distinction made by Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.) between the Chaldaeans and these races. Later, during the period covering the fall of Assyria and the rise of the Neo-Babylonian empire, the term mat Kaldu was not only applied to all Babylonia, but also embraced the territory of certain foreign nations who were later included by Ezekiel (xxiii. 23) under the expression "Chaldaeans." As already indicated, the Chaldaeans were most probably a Semitic people. It is likely that they first came from Arabia, the supposed original home of the Semitic races, at a very early date along the coast of the Persian Gulf and settled in the neighbourhood of Ur ("Ur of the Chaldees," Gen. xi. 28), whence they began a series of encroachments, partly by warfare and partly by immigration, against the other Semitic Babylonians. These aggressions after many centuries ended in the Chaldaean supremacy of Nabopolassar and his successors (c. 626 ff.), although there is no positive proof that Nabopolassar was purely Chaldaean in blood. The sudden rise of the later Babylonian empire under Nebuchadrezzar, the son of Nabopolassar, must have tended to produce so thorough an amalgamation of the Chaldaeans and Babylonians, who had theretofore been considered as two kindred branches of the same original Semite stock, that in the course of time no perceptible differences existed between them. A similar amalgamation, although in this case of two peoples originally racially distinct, has taken place in modern times between the Manchu Tatars and the Chinese. It is quite evident, for example, from the Semitic character of the Chaldaean king-names, that the language of these Chaldaeans differed in no way from the ordinary Semitic Babylonian idiom which was practically identical with that of Assyria. Consequently, the term "Chaldaean" came quite naturally to be used in later days as synonymous with "Babylonian." When subsequently the Babylonian language went out of use and Aramaic took its place, the latter tongue was wrongly termed "Chaldee" by Jerome, because it was the only language known to him used in Babylonia. This error was followed until a very recent date by many scholars.

The derivation of the name "Chaldaean" is extremely uncertain. Peter Jensen has conjectured with slight probability that the Chaldaeans were Semitized Sumerians, i.e. a nonSemitic tribe which by contact with Semitic influences had lost its original character. There seems to be little or no evidence to support such a view. Friedrich Delitzsch derived the name "Chaldaean" = Kasdim from the non-Semitic Kassites who held the supremacy over practically all Babylonia during an extended period (c. 1783-1200 B.C.). This theory seems also to be extremely improbable. It is much more likely that the name "Chaldaean" is connected with the Semitic stem kasadu (conquer), in which case Kaldi-Kaki, with the well-known interchange of 1 and š, would mean "conquerors." It is also possible that Kasdu-Kaldu is connected with the proper name Chesed, who is represented as having been the nephew of Abraham (Gen. xxii. 22). There is no connexion whatever between the Black Sea peoples called "Chaldaeans" by Xenophon (Ahab. vii. 25) and the Chaldaeans of Babylonia.

In Daniel, the term "Chaldaeans" is very commonly employed with the meaning "astrologers, astronomers," which sense also appears in the classical authors, notably in Herodotus, Strabo and Diodorus. In Daniel i. 4, by the expression "tongue of the Chaldaeans," the writer evidently meant the language in which the celebrated Babylonian works on astrology and divination were composed. It is now known that the literary idiom of the Babylonian wise men was the non-Semitic Sumerian; but it is not probable that the late author of Daniel (c. 168 B.C.) was aware of this fact.

The word "Chaldaean" is used in Daniel in two senses. It is applied as elsewhere in the Old Testament as a race-name to the Babylonians (Dan. iii. 8, v. 30, ix. I); but the expression is used oftener, either as a name for some special class of magicians, or as a term for magicians 111 general (ix. 1). The transfer of the name of the people to a special class is perhaps to be explained in the following manner. As just shown, "Chaldaean" and "Babylonian" had become in later times practically synonymous, but the term "Chaldaean" had lived on in the secondary restricted sense of "wise men." The early Kaldi had seized and held from very ancient times the region of old Sumer, which was the centre of the primitive non-Semitic culture. It seems extremely probable that these Chaldaean Semites were so strongly influenced by the foreign civilization as to adopt it eventually as their own. Then, as the Chaldaeans soon became the dominant people, the priestly caste of that region developed into a Chaldaean institution. It is reasonable to conjecture that southern Babylonia, the home of the old culture, supplied Babylon and other important cities with priests, who from their descent were correctly called "Chaldaeans." This name in later times, owing to the racial amalgamation of the Chaldaeans and Babylonians, lost its former national force, and became, as it occurs in Daniel, a distinctive appellation of the Babylonian priestly class. It is possible, though not certain, that the occurrence of the word kalu (priest) in Babylonian, which has no etymological connexion with Kaldu, may have contributed paronomastically towards the popular use of the term "Chaldaeans" for the Babylonian Magi. (See also ASTROLOGY.) LITERATURE. - Delattre, Les Chaldeens jusqu'a la fond. de l'emp. de Nebuch. (1889); Winckler, Untersuchungen zur altor. Gesch. (1889), pp. 49 ff.; Gesch. Bab. u. Assyr. (1892), pp. 111 ff.; Prince, Commentary on D aniel (1899), pp. 5961; see also BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA and SUMER AND SUMERIAN. U. D. PR.)

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