Mother Goose Investigations – How Far is Babylon?

How far is Babylon? Based on the poem, score 3 and 10 (or 70 miles). Babylon is present-day Iraq.

Places that are 70 miles from Iraq are present-day Syria, present-day Turkey, Iran (formerly Persia, of course), Kuwait, and Jordan. Since the interlocutor uses miles and miles are Roman, this suggests that the Romans occupied the Jordan.

Babylon in the New Testament refers to Rome or refers to an evil place. The word Rastafarian combines these meanings and makes Babylon mean an oppressive system.

But this may not yet be what rhyme means.

The important thing is what happens next in the rhyme. Which can be reached by candlelight and vice versa. This surely rules it out as a real place.

Although 70 miles are not very far today, it would be difficult to get that far at night. It should be noted that you are traveling holding a candle, this surely means walking. Certainly something is wrong here …

Well the English version seems to be about walking, the Scottish version seems to be about a horse and the interrogator needs to have shiny spurs; it is not clear what that has to do with fast travel.

It seems that Babylon is very far away (or a seemingly distant city) like present-day Timbuktu. How many people know that Timbuktu is in Mali? Not many, for most it is just a convenient and far away place.

Another theory is that Babylon is a corruption of the land of babies, this does not hold particularly well. It seems that the name Babylon came from Babel, to speak. This refers to the legend of a (Babylonian) tower that collapsed because everyone spoke different languages.

It seems that the place the traveler is going seems a little more real than that. Whatever it is, it’s a rhyme about travel mysteries.