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ment, which if in some things it had not failed, the miracle had been very great.
SECT. VI. What may be held as probable of the persons and times of Nabu
chodonosor's successors. IT now remains that I freely acknowledge mine own weakness, who cannot find how the seventy years of captivity are to be divided among them which reigned in Babylon, though I find that the distribution made of them, in such wise as already is rehearsed, be ill agreeable to the holy scriptures. Wherefore I may truly say with Pererius, that we ought liberally to pardon those whose feet have failed them in the slippery ways of chronology, wherein both learning and diligence are subject to take a fall at one time or other, by ignorance, forgetfulness, or heedless reckoning. Yet will I adventure to deliver my opinion, wherein the judgment of Lyra and others (holding those only to have reigned over Chaldeans whose names are found in the scriptures) appears more conformable to reason and account of time, than any of the other sentences or conjectures before rehearsed. Not that I will take upon me to defend Lyra's conjectures, when he supposeth by Niglisar and Labosardach to be meant the same persons which are called in scripture Evilmerodach and Balthasar, (for this can by no good colour be maintained,) but only to shew that the kings by him cited are likely to have occupied the whole time of seventy years. First therefore let us consider the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, in whose eighteenth year Jerusalem was taken and sacked, but in his nineteenth laid utterly desolate.
Most writers have given to him forty-three years of reign, following therein Berosus. There are who have added one year more; and some have made it up forty-five. To dispute about the certainty were needless : for in shewing by what length of time the scriptures measure him, we shall shew the certain truth. Manifest it is, that the nineteenth year of s Nebuchad. nezzar is joined with the eleventh of Zedekias; as also that his eighth year was the first year of Jechonia's captivity; the reign of Zedekias occupied all the mean space, being of eleven years. This is generally agreed upon, so that it needs no further proofs: as for the beginning of his successor · Evilmerodach, it was in the thirty-seventh year of Jechonia's captivity; so that Nebuchadnezzar, after his eighth year, (which was the first of Jechonia's bondage,) reigned thirty-five whole years, and peradventure a good part of the thirty-sixth, forasmuch as Jechonia was enlarged with so great favour, not until the end of the year. Subtracting therefore out of these forty-four, which Nebuchadnezzar's reign did well near occupy, those eighteen years of his which passed away before the captivity of Juda, and ruin of the city, we have remaining twenty-six years of the seventy, that were almost wholly spent when his son began to reign.
2 Kings ji. 5. 8. Jer. li. 12. 2 Kings xxiv. 12.
It is now to be considered how the remainder of the seventy years were divided between the kings ruling in Babylon until the first of Cyrus. A question more difficult (as I said before) than greatly needful: the whole sum being certain, and the distinction of times affording no benefit in knowledge of their actions who were slothful princes. Neither can any man the more justly suspect the beginning or end of the whole seventy years, for that the distribution of some part of them is only conjectural ; seeing that none who gives any other terms to their beginning or end, hath refused to follow both unlikely and desperate conjectures in dividing them. I will therefore be bold to do as others have done; knowing well beforehand, that whosoever shall discover my error must do me the pleasure (which I could rather wish in a case more material) of making me to understand the truth.
Of the forty-four years remaining in account at Nebuchadnezzar's death, we are to take away the last, which was the first of Darius the Mede, and then having authority good enough to warrant us from blame of presumption, in
1 2 Kings xxv. 27. Jer. lii. 31.
giving us seventeen years to Balthasar, we find left in our hands to bestow upon Evilmerodach twenty-six years. Of the year belonging to Darius the Mede, I have already spoken what I thought sufficient, in delivering my opinion of the beginning and continuance of this captivity. That Balthasar did reign seventeen years, we have the authority of Josephus before cited in express words; we have also the general consent of all or the most late writers, interpreting Berosus's Nabonidus, who reigned so long, and Balthasar to have been one. But nothing moved me so much to believe this tradition, as, first, those evident places in u Daniel, shewing that in the third year of Balthasar he followed the king's business, and yet was forgotten ere the end of his reign, (a proof sufficient of no few years passing under this man, especially seeing it is nowhere found that Daniel's employments took end either that year or the next.) Secondly, the consideration of Cyrus's wars against the Assyrians, which beginning with the death of this man's father, and being always prosperous, could hardly have occupied any longer time, though we make large allowance to his deeds in the Lower Asia, which fell out in the midway: I have already shewed, that there appears in the scriptures likelihood enough to make it credible that the reign of Evilmerodach was not short; and that men of great judgment have found it most probable that he was king twentythree years. More, I think, they would have allowed him, had not the desire of satisfying Berosus caused them to rest content with this. And surely it were greatly to be wished, that books of such antiquity as those of Berosus were extant without corruption; a great light (no doubt) they would yield in many dark passages of antiquity. I will
yet confess, that were his works never so excellent, and in all things else unquestionably true, I would not therefore condescend unto him in some one point, wherein the scriptures were his open enemy. How much less ought I to obey a broken fragment of his, containing only seven or eight lines, and part even of the title corrupted, as they believe that follow him in the rest! The scriptures have told us that God gave the empire to * Nebuchadnezzar, to his son, and to his son's son: how long each of them held it, we find not expressed; yet would we gladly know it of Berosus, or of any other that would teach us; provided always, that helping us in a particularity, he destroy not thereby the general truth. More words are needless. It is enough to say with others, that Berosus, or Josephus who cited him, hath been wronged by the carelessness of scribes; and that it was as easy for those scribes to err in writing two for twenty-six, as for twenty-three, or perhaps more easy. For the omission of the second figure was as likely the one way as the other; and the character s signifying six, hath a nearer resemblance of ß that stands for two, than hath y which is used for three. So that the numeral notes Bs expressing twenty-six, were not safe enough from being mistaken in the true copy, and might be altered, as ill written, if some crooked hand, or other mischance not unusual, had omitted the first stroke of the former letter, or added a dash to the latter, which might cause them to seem not two different figures, but the one a correction of the other, which how it could be supposed in By standing for twenty-three, I do not well perceive. As for the arithmetical figures now in use, they were long after the time of Josephus brought in by the Arabians, and therefore do not appertain to this business ; unless we should guess that his works were corrupted in that unlearned age, which, following the Saracen conquest, was little occupied in the studies of humanity, but in a sort wholly given over to the doctrine of Aristotle. If this will serve to make Berosus our friend, so let it be; if not, I will not purchase the favour of his authority by forsaking Jeremy and Daniel, when they seem his opposites.
* Dan. viii. 1. 27. and i, 11, 12, 13.
SECT. VII. Of the victories which Nabuchodonosor obtained between the de
struction of Jerusalem and conquest of Egypt. WITH what actions this time of seventy years was entertained by the Babylonian kings, few have written, or little is remaining in record: which may peradventure have been some cause that the time itself was, and is yet sought to be abridged, as not having left sufficient matter to witness the length of it. But by such an argument we might as well deny to many people even their being. For every nation, (I know not whom I should except,) between the beginning and last end of it, hath in some slothful age rather dreamt away the time than spent it. It is therefore no marvel if the posterity of Nabuchodonosor, finding all things ready to their hand, which their hearts could have desired, betook themselves to their ease and pleasures, thinking perhaps, like the prodigal sons of greedy fathers, their own wisdom greater, which knew how to enjoy, than that of their ancestors, which wearied away their days in the restless travail of purchasing. Though indeed the reign of Nabuchodonosor was so divided, that his youthful and stronger years having been exercised in victorious arms, no small
part of his life was remaining to be spent in establishing what was gotten, and gathering the fruit of his worthy labours past. The nineteenth year of his reign it was, when,
, destroying utterly the great and mighty city of Jerusalem, he enriched himself with abundance of spoil, and terrified all that would offer to resist him by that fearful example. From that time forward, until his twenty-third year, he laboured in the conquest of those adjoining regions, which God had exposed unto his sword, and commanded to wear his yoke; namely, the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Tyrians, Sidonians, and Egyptians, though some of these were already become his followers, and served under him, when Jerusalem was beaten down and burnt. But the Tyrians, whose city was founded on an island, safe enough from any danger of a land army, and whose fleet was so strong that they needed not to fear any enemy at sea, were