What do we know about the Chaldeans?

The Chaldeans are an ancient people group who inhabited what would today be southern Iraq. The Bible mentions "the land of the Chaldeans" which at that time would have been the southern part of Babylon (Isaiah 23:13; Jeremiah 24:5). Ur of the Chaldeans was a city-state in the land of the Chaldeans, and it was the home of Abram, who later became Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. The Chaldeans pre-date Israel. There are still some today who identify as being of Chaldean descent.

Chaldeans were, at times, rulers in Babylon—Ukinzer, Merodach-Baladan, and Nabopolassar were all Chaldean kings of Babylon, and the two cultures were sometimes referred to interchangeably. In the Bible, there are many instances where the word Chaldean is used to refer to Babylonians (Isaiah 13:19; 47:1, 5; 48:14, 20). In the book of Daniel, during the Babylonian captivity of Israel, the famous last king of Babylon, Belshazzar, was called "king of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 5:30). The Bible describes the Chaldeans as influential, intelligent, and educated. Some scholars think that as Babylon developed, the Chaldeans came to be known as more of a social class of people, rather than a group originating from southern Babylon. A group of advisors to King Nebuchadnezzar were referred to as "the Chaldeans" (Daniel 3:8). The Chaldeans were known as a highly educated group, especially skilled in astrology and astronomy.

Along with many other people-groups in the Old Testament, the Chaldeans were God's instrument of judgment upon disobedient Israel, and the Babylonian army also defeated Israel in battle (Jeremiah 51:4; 2 Kings 25:5-10). The Chaldeans were one of the groups that raided Job, killed his servants and stole his livestock (Job 1:17). Judgment of the Chaldeans was also prophesied: "Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste" (Jeremiah 25:12).

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