The king spake and said
Either within himself, or to his nobles about him; or perhaps to foreigners he had took up with him hither to show the grandeur of the city:
is not this great Babylon, that I have built;
he might well call it great, for, according to Aristotle F3, it was more like a country than a city; it was, as Pliny F4 says, sixty miles in compass within the walls; and Herodotus F5 affirms it was four hundred and fourscore furlongs round, and such the "greatness" of it, and so beautified, as no other city was he ever knew; (See Gill on Jeremiah 51:58), though the king seems to have gone too far, in ascribing the building of it to himself; at least he was not the original builder of it; for it was built many hundreds of years before he was born, by Nimrod or Belus, who were the same, ( Genesis 10:10 ) , and was much increased and strengthened by Semiramis, the wife of his son Ninus; therefore to her sometimes the building of it is ascribed; but inasmuch as it might be in later times greatly neglected by the Assyrian kings, Nineveh being the seat of their empire; Nebuchadnezzar, when he came to the throne, and especially after he had enriched himself with the spoils of the conquered nations, greatly enlarged, beautified, and fortified it: and Berosus F6 relates, that he not only adorned the temple of Bel therewith, but of the city which was of old he made a new one, and fortified it, built three walls within, and as many without; and another royal palace contiguous to his father's, which greatly exceeded it; and hanging gardens in it, which looked at a distance like mountains, for the pleasure of his wife; and now, because he had done so much to the repairing, enlarging, and fortifying of this city, he takes the honour to himself of being the builder of it: and this was done, he says,
for the house of the kingdom;
that it might be the seat of the empire, and a proper place for the royal family to dwell in, to have their palace, and keep their court in:
by the might of my power;
through the great riches he was possessed of, which he employed in many great works, as before related, to the advantage of this city; he takes all to himself, and excludes all instruments, and even God himself; though, unless the Lord build the city, in vain the builders build, ( Psalms 127:1 ) :
for the honour of my majesty?
not so much for the benefit of the city, for the good of his subjects, as for the honour and glory of himself; to show his riches, power, and grandeur, and to make his name immortal to future ages.
F3 Politic. l. 3. c. 3.
F4 Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 26.
F5 Clio, sive l. 1. c. 178.
F6 Apud Joseph. Antiqu. l. 10. c. 11. sect. 1. & contr. Allion, 1. 1. sect. 19.