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 language of the Kaldu was Babylonian, the same, save for slight peculiarities in sound and in characters, as the Assyrian language of Niniveh. In the late Assyrian Empire, Babylonian ceased to be spoken, and Aramaic took its place. One form of this widespread language is used in Daniel and Ezra.
The Chaldeans were traditional allies of the Elamites and Persians in their struggle against the Assyrians.
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.
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.).
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