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Borsippa

BORSIPPA

BORSIPPA , the modern Birs Nimrud, city in Babylonia, south of the city of Babylon and the river Euphrates, and connected with Babylon by the Barsip canal. In medieval times it was known as Burs (a similar form occurs in Av. Zar. 11b; Kid, 72a). Because of its proximity to Babylon, and possibly also on account of its importance, it was sometimes referred to by the Babylonians as "the second Babylon." Famous in the Hellenistic period for its school of astrologers (Strabo, 16:1,7 (739); cf. also Jos., Apion, 1:151f.), it had, as late as talmudic times, a temple dedicated to Nebo, the deity of the city, which was enumerated among the "five temples appointed for idol worship" (Av. Zar. 11b). The sages held the ruins of the tower at Borsippa to be those of the Tower of Babel (Sanh. 109a; Gen. R. 38:11) and the contemporary Babylon to be located on the site of the ancient Borsippa (Shab. 36a; Suk. 34a). Benjamin of Tudela, who visited the place, relates: "From there (i.e., Hillah which is near Babylon) it is four miles to the Tower of Babel, which was built of bricks by the generation whose language was confounded…. The length of its foundation is about two miles, the breadth of the tower is about forty cubits, and the length thereof two hundred cubits. At every ten cubits' distance there are slopes which go around the tower, by which one can ascend to the top. One can see from there a view twenty miles in extent, as the land is level. There fell fire from heaven into the midst of the tower, which split to its very depths." In talmudic times Borsippa had an important Jewish population with the most distinguished genealogy of all the Babylonian Jews (Kid. 72a).

bibliography:

R. Koldewey, Die Tempel yon Babylon und Borsippa (1911); idem, Das wiedererstehende Babylon (1913); F. Hommel, Grundriss der Geographie und Geschichte des alten Orients (1926); J. Obermeyer, Landschaft Babylonien (1929), 314–5.

[Yehoshua M. Grintz]

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