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Chaldeans or Chaldees

The ancient Diodorus Siculus says the "most ancient"-inhabitants of Babylonia. There was among them, as among the Egiptians, a true priestly caste, which was both exclusive and hereditary; for although not every Chaldean was a priest, yet no man could be a priest among them unless he were a Chaldean. "At Babylon," says Doctor Smith (Ancient History of the East, page 398), "they were in all respects the ruling order in the body politic, uniting in themselves the characters of the English sacerdotal and military classes. They filled all the highest offices of state under the king, who himself belonged to the order."

The Chaldean priests were famous for their astronomical science, the study of which was particularly favored by the clear atmosphere and the cloudless skies of their country, and to which they were probably urged by their national worship of the sun and the heavenly hosts. Diodorus Siculus says that they passed their whole lives in meditating questions of philosophy, and acquired a great reputation for their astrology. They were addicted especially to the art of divination, and framed predictions of the future. They sought to avert evil and to insure good by purifications, sacrifices, and enchantments. They were versed in the arts of prophesying and explaining dreams and prodigies. All this learning among the Chaldeans was a family tradition; the son inheriting the profession and the knowledge of the priesthood from his father, and transmitting it to his descendants. The Chaldeans were settled throughout the whole country, but there were some special cities, such as Borsippa, Ur, Sippera, and Babylon, where they had regular colleges. The reputation of the Chaldeans for prophetic and magical knowledge was so great, that astrologers, and conjurers in general, were styled Babylonians and Chaldeans, just as the wandering fortune- tellers of modern times are called Egyptians or gipsies, and Ars Chaldoearum was the name given to all occult sciences.

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