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(chal dee' uh) refers either to a geographical locality (Chaldea) or to the people who lived there (Chaldeans). Chaldea was situated in central and southeastern Mesopotamia, i.e., the land between the lower stretches of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Today Chaldea lies in the country of Iraq, very close to its border with Iran, and touching upon the head of the Persian Gulf.

The Chaldeans In Old Testament times different peoples occupied southeastern Mesopotamia at various times. One such group was the Chaldeans, whose name derives from the ancient term Kaldai , which refers to several Aramean tribes who moved into lower Mesopotamia between 1000,900 B.C. Their new homeland was a flat, alluvial plain of few natural resources, many marshes, spring flooding, and very hot summers.

Relation to Babylonia At first the Chaldeans lived in tribal settlements, rejecting the urban society of the Babylonians to the northwest—so-called after the leading city-state of the region, Babylon, to which the Old Testament refers over 300 times. Babylon was once the capital city of the great King Hammurabi (ca. 1763-1750 B.C.), remembered for the empire he created, and for the famous law code which bears his name.

As time passed, the Chaldeans gradually acquired domination in Babylonia. In the process they also took on the title “Babylonians,” or more exactly, “Neo-Babylonians.” As a result, the terms Chaldea(ns) and (Neo-) Babylonia(ns) may be used interchangeably ( Ezekiel 1:3 , RSV, NIV; Ezekiel 12:13 , NIV). See Babylon, History and Religion of .

In the eighth century B.C., the Chaldeans emerged as the champions of resistance against Assyria, a dangerous, aggressive imperial force in upper Mesopotamia. At this time the Chaldeans begin to appear in the Old Testament, first, as possible allies with Judah against Assyria, but later, as a direct threat to Judah and Jerusalem.

Tony M. Martin

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Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Chaldea'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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