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CHALDAEA, CHALDEA kăl de’ ə, CHALDAEANS, CHALDEANS kăl de’ ənz כַּשְׂדִּים, H4169; Aram. כַּשְׂדָּי, H10373; Χαλδαί, Χαλδαίοι). Name of a district in S Babylonia and its inhabitants, later applied to a dynasty which controlled all Babylonia.

The land.

The marshes and deserts bordering the N Pers. Gulf were called the “Sealands” in the 2nd millennium b.c. and here dwelt tribes named in later Babylonian cuneiform as Kaldai. The Heb. name is prob. derived from a less used Assyrian Kašdu. There are no contemporary references to the first settlement of these semi-nomadic Sem. (Aramaean?) tribes in the area, though texts from the Early Dynastic III period (c. 2700 b.c.) attest to the presence of Semites in the region, some of whom may by that time have occupied the area about Ur, called “of the Chaldaeans” (Gen 11:28) to distinguish it from northern cities called Ura’. Operations by these tribes to the W would not be improbable (Job 1:17), but the dating of these allusions cannot as yet be checked by external sources. The area also was named after the tribes that occupied its parts; Bīt-Dakkuri, Bīt-Adini, Bīt-Amukkani, Bīt-Sa’alli, Bīt-Shilani and Bīt-Yakin. With the rise of the Chaldaean dynasty (626 b.c.) the name was used to describe Babylonia and its empire in its entirety (Dan 3:8).


Assyrian domination.

By reason of the comparative inaccessibility of their territory, the tribes in the southern marshes were largely independent, and often a source of trouble to their Assyrian overlords. Ashurnaṩirpal II (883-859 b.c.) was the first to note their activities in his annals. His son Shalmaneser III captured Baqani from the Adini tribe in 851. Adadnirari III, c. 805 b.c., lists the Amukkani and Yakin among the chiefs who submitted to him as vassals. On the death of Nabu-naṩir in 734 the chief of the Amukkani revolted and seized the throne of Babylon from that puppet-king. Tiglath-pileser III immediately sent an army against Ukin-zēr and the rebels and plundered the lands of the Amukkani, Shilani and Sa’alli, while Ukin-zēr himself was engaged in the siege of Sapia. Balasu of Dakkuri and Marduk-apla-iddina of Bīt-Yakin sought to gain an advantage over their rival by coming to terms with the Assyrians on condition that their lands would be spared. Ukin-zēr was deposed and the tribes became increasingly restive. Babylon was controlled by Marduk-apla-iddina, though he himself prob. lived outside the city with his tribesmen.


In 703 Sennacherib intervened with a powerful Assyrian army which contrived to split Marduk-apla-iddina and the southern tribes from their western (Arab) allies and eastern aid (Elam). The chief of Bīt-Yakin was driven across the Persian Gulf to take refuge among a related tribe where he died. Nevertheless resistance to the Assyrians continued under his son Nabu-zēr-napišti-lišir, who was put to death by his Elamite host who wished to regain favor with Nineveh. Esarhaddon wisely adopted a policy of conciliation toward the murdered brother’s family. When, however, the last Assyrian king, Ashurbanipal, raided the S and took Marduk-apla-iddina’s grandson Patia prisoner, the Chaldaeans moved at once to support Shamash-shum-ukin of Babylon in his revolt against his royal brother. On the latter’s defeat in 648, two Chaldaean chiefs were punished and another grandson of Marduk-apla-iddina, Nabu-bēl-šumāti who fled to Elam, committed suicide when his extradition was demanded of the Elamites.

The Chaldaean dynasty.


The immense scientific learning of the Chaldaeans (Neo-Babylonians) esp. in mathematical astronomy and its associated astrology, divination and rituals was taught in the Babylonian temple schools (1:4; 4:7). These texts were preserved in Aram. (formerly wrongly designated “Chaldee”) and in the cuneiform script used for copying Sumer. and Akkad. lit. In Daniel (2:2; 4:7; 5:7-11), the term “Chaldaean” was thus equated with “magicians, enchanters and soothsayers.” This was but the beginning of the use of the term for priests and specialists in these arts, as it appears in Herodotus (i. 181, 183) about 450 b.c.


H. W. F. Saggs, “The Nimrud Letters, 1952-I: The Ukin-zēr rebellion and related texts,” Iraq XVII (1955), 21-56; D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean Kings (626-565 B.C.) in the British Museum (1956); G. Roux, Ancient Iraq (1964), 310-324; J. A. Brinkman, “Merodach-Baladan II,” Studies Presented to A. L. Oppenheim (1964), 6-53.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

kal-de’-a, kal-de’-anz (kasdim, ’erets kasdim; Chaldaia, Chaldaioi):

1. Geographical Position

Seats of the Chaldeans

2. Originally Sumero-Akkadian

3. History of the Chaldean Tribes

4. Merodach-baladan and Sargon of Assyria

5. Suzubu

6. Musezib-Marduk

7. Merodach-baladan’s Son

8. Na’id-Marduk

9. Palia

10. Nabu-bel-sumati and Others

His Tragic End

11. The Chaldeans Forge Ahead

12. Nabopolassar’s Revolt against Assyria

13. The Chaldeans as Learned Men

"Kasdim," "land of Kasdim" or "the Chaldeans," is the usual designation, in the Old Testament, for the land and the people (Jer 50:10; 51:24; 24:5; 25:12). The corresponding Greek form with l for s follows the Assyr-Bab Kaldu, mat Kaldi, "Chaldean, land of the Chaldeans." Kasdim is possibly connected with the name of Kesed (Kesedh), nephew of Abraham (Ge 22:22), and may be derived from the Assyr-Bab root kasadu, "to capture," suggesting that the Chaldeans were originally tribes of nomadic plunderers (compare Job 1:17).

1. Geographical Position:

Seats of the Chaldeans:

In its widest acceptation, Chaldea is the name of the whole of Babylonia, owing to the fact that the Chaldeans had given more than one king to the country. In the strict sense, however, their domain was the tract at the Northwest end of the Persian Gulf, which was often called by the Assyro-Babylonians mat Tamtim, "the Land of the Sea," a province of unknown extent. When these tribes migrated into Babylonia is uncertain, as is also their original home; but as they are closely related to the Arameans, it is possible that their first settlements lay in the neighborhood of the Aramean states bordering on the Holy Land. Tiglath-pileser IV (742 BC) speaks of the ra’asani or chiefs of the Kaldu, and the mention of numerous Aramean tribes in Babylonia itself shows that their example of settling there soon found imitators, as did the Anglo-Saxons when they invaded Britain. Among the Chaldean tribes in Babylonia may be mentioned Bit Amukkani, whose capital was Sapia; Bit Yakin which furnished the dynasty to which Merodach-baladan II belonged; and probably also Bit Dakkuri, as all three lay near the Persian Gulf. Sargon of Assyria excludes Bit-Amukkani and Bit-Dakkuri, and speaks of "the whole of the land of Chaldea, as much as there is; the land of Bit-Yakini, on the shore of the Salt River (the Persian Gulf), to the border of Tilmun" (the island of Bahrein and the adjacent mainland) (Pavement Inscr., IV, ll. 82, 83, 85, 86). It was probably the influence of theBabylonians among whom they settled which changed these nomads into city-dwellers. Sennacherib refers to 75 (var. 89) strong cities and fortresses of Chaldea, and 420 (var. 800) smaller towns which were around them; and there were also Chaldeans (and Arameans) in Erech, Nippur (Calneh), Kis, Hursag-kalama, Cuthah, and probably Babylon.

2. Originally Sumero-Akkadian:

The "land of the sea" (mat Tamtim)is mentioned in the chronicle of the early Babylonian kings (rev. 14) as being governed by Ea-gamil, contemporary of Samsu-Titana (circa 1900 BC), but at that period it was apparently one of the original Sumero-Akkadian states of Babylonia. It is doubtful whether, at that early date, the Chaldeans had entered Babylonia and founded settlements there, though the record mentions Arameans somewhat later on.

3. History of the Chaldean Tribes:

One of the earliest references to the Chaldeans is that of Shalmaneser II of Assyria, who, on invading Babylonia in the eponymy of Belbunaya (851 BC), captured the city Baqani, which belonged to Adini of the Chaldean tribe of Dakuri. After plundering and destroying the place, Shalmaneser attacked Enzudi, the capital, whereupon Adini submitted and paid tribute. On this occasion Yakini of "the Land of the Sea," also paid tribute, as did Musallim-Marduk, son of Amukkani (the Bit-Amukkani mentioned above). The next Assyrian ruler to mention the country is Adadnirari III (810 BC), who speaks of all the kings of the Chaldeans, which evidently refers to the various states into which the Chaldean tribes were divided. Later on, Sargon of Assyria, in his 12th year, decided to break the power of Merodach-baladan, who had made himself master of Babylon. To effect this, he first defeated the Gambulians, who were the Chaldean king’s supporters, and the Elamites, his allies over the border. The Chaldean, however, did not await the Assyrian king’s attack, but escaped to Yatburu in Elam, leaving considerable spoil behind him.

4. Merodach-baladan and Sargon of Assyria:

Though extensive operations were carried out, and much booty taken, the end of the campaign seems only to have come two years later, when Dur-Yakin was destroyed by fire and reduced to ruins. In the "Annals of Hall XIV" Sargon claims to have taken Merodach-baladan prisoner, but this seems doubtful. Merodach-baladan fled, but returned and mounted the throne again on Sargon’s death in 705 BC. Six months later Sennacherib, in his turn, attacked him, and he again sought safety in flight.

5. Suzubu:

A Chaldean chief named Suzubu, however, now came forward, and proclaimed himself king of Babylon, but being defeated, he likewise fled. Later on, Sennacherib attacked the Chaldeans at Nagitu and other settlements in Elamite-territory which Merodach-baladan and his followers had founded.

6. Musezib-Marduk:

After the death of Merodach-baladan, yet another Chaldean, whom Sennacherib calls likewise Suzubu, but whose full name was Musezib-Marduk, mounted the Babylonian throne. This ruler applied for help against Sennacherib of Assyria to Umman-menanu, the king of Elam, who, taking the bribe which was offered, supported him with an armed force, and a battle was fought at Chalule on the Tigris, in which Sennacherib claims the victory--probably rightly. Musezib-Marduk reigned 4 years, and was taken prisoner by his whilom ally, Umman-menanu, who sent him to Assyria.

7. Merodach-baladan’s Son:

In the reign of Esarhaddon, Nabu-zer-napistilisir, one of the sons of Merodach-baladan, gathered an army at Larsa, but was defeated by the Assyrians, and fled to Elam. The king of that country, however, wishing to be on friendly terms with Esarhaddon, captured him and put him to death.

8. Na’id-Marduk:

This prince had a brother named Na’id-Marduk, who, not feeling himself safe in the country which had acted treacherously toward his house, fled, and made submission to Esarhaddon, who received him favorably, and restored to him the dominion of the "Land of the Sea." This moderation secured the fidelity of the Chaldeans, and when the Elamite Urtaku sent inviting them to revolt against their suzerain, they answered to the effect that Na’id-Marduk was their lord, and they were the servants of the king of Assyria. This took place probably about 650 BC, in the reign of Esarhaddon’s son Assur-bani-apli (see Osnappar).

9. Palia:

Hostility to Assyria, however, continued to exist in the tribe, Palia, grandson of Merodach-baladan, being one of the prisoners taken by Assur-bani-apli’s troops in their operations against the Gambulians (a Babylonian, and perhaps a Chaldean tribe) later on. It was only during the struggle of Samas-sumukin (Saosduchimos), king of Babylon, Assur-banl-apli’s brother, however, that they took sides against Assyria as a nationality. This change was due to the invitation of the Babylonian king--who may have been regarded, rather than Assur-bani-apli, as their overlord.

10. Nabu-bel-sumati:

The chief of the Chaldeans was at that time another grandson of Merodach-baladan, Nabu-bel-sumati, who seized the Assyrians in his domain, and placed them in bonds. The Chaldeans suffered, with the rest, in the great defeat of the Babylonian and allied forces, when Babylon and the chief cities of the land fell. Mannu-ki-Babili of the Dakkurians, Ea-sum-ikisa of Bit-Amukkani, with other Chaldean states, were punished for their complicity in Samas-sum-ukin’s revolt, while Nabu-bel-sumati fled and found refuge at the court of Indabigas, king of Elam. Assur-bani-apli at once demanded his surrender, but civil war in Elam broke out, in which Indabigas was slain, and Ummanaldas mounted the throne.

His Tragic End:

This demand was now renewed, and Nabu-bel-sumati, fearing that he would be surrendered, decided to end his life. He therefore directed his armor-bearer to dispatch him, and each ran the other through with his sword. The prince’s corpse, with the head of his armor-bearer, were then sent, with some of the Chaldean fugitives, to Assyria, and presented to the king. Thus ended, for a time, Chaldean ambition in Babylonia and in the domain of eastern politics.

11. The Chaldeans Forge Ahead:

With the death of Assur-bani-apli, which took place about 626 BC, the power of Assyria fell, his successors being probably far less capable men than he. This gave occasion for many plots against the Assyrian empire, and the Chaldeans probably took part in the general movement. In the time of Saracus (Sin-sarra-iskun of Assyria, circa 620 BC) Busalossor would seem to have been appointed general of the forces in Babylonia in consequence of an apprehended invasion of barbarians from the sea (the Persian Gulf) (Eusebius, Chronicon, book i).

12. Nabopolassar’s Revolt against Assyria:

The new general, however, revolted against the Assyrians, and made himself master of Babylonia. As, in other cases, the Assyrians seem to have been exceedingly faithful to their king, it has been thought possible that this general, who was none other than Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadpolassar’s rezzar, was not really an Assyrian, but a Babylonian, and probably a Chaldean. This theory; if correct, would explain how Babylonia, in its fullest sense, obtained the name of Chaldea, and was no longer known as the land of Shinar (Ge 10:10). The reputation of Merodach-baladan, the contemporary of Hezekiah, may have been partly responsible for the change of name.

13. The Chaldeans as Learned Men:

See Babylonia; Shinar.