ページの画像
PDF
ePub

This is probably alluded to in the supposed marriage of Semiramis and Ninus. Then it was that the Samarim performed the great works attributed to them. For, exclusive of what was performed at Babylon, there are, says Strabo, almost over the face of the whole earth, vast mounds of earth (these mounds were high altars, upon which they sacrificed to the sun. By Ctesias they are supposed to have been the tombs of her lovers whom she buried alive-Syncellus, p. 64,) and walls and ramparts, attributed to Semiramis; and in those are subterraneous passages of communication, and tanks for water, with staircases of stone. There are also vast canals to divert the course of rivers, and lakes to receive them, together with highways and bridges of a wonderful structure. They built the famous terraces at Babylon, and those beautiful gardens at Egbatana, after that city had fallen into their hands. They built Babylon itself; which, by Eupolemus, was said to have been the work of Belus and the giants.”'4He proceeds to establish his position by further facts, and supports his inferences by a quotation from Clemens Alex. Strom. Lib. I. p. 364, and thus concludes—“The Samarim of Egypt and Babylonia were of the same family, the sons of Chus. They came and settled among the Mizraim, under the name of shepherds. The reason of their being called Semarim, and Samarim,” having been already adduced under the article of Semiramis, from this writer, need not be here repeated. Upon the whole, we see no reason, after the most careful revision of the subject, to depart from the opinions expressed in that article; and without going all the lengths of this distinguished writer, and supposing that there were no such persons as Ninus, Ninyas, or Semiramis, we are disposed to adopt in general his principle, that the heroic achievements ascribed to those personages were, in fact, the exploits of a people named after them, or connected with them; and which are, demonstrably, the works not of a reign but of ages.

Nothing can be more difficult than to attempt to fix the precise bounds of any ancient empire topographically, as may be seen by any one who will try to define the boundaries of Syria and the Holy Land; and politically, as appears in the mixture of state with state, and the influence of one doinination over another: the empire of the Assyrians is particularly difficult to ascertain, as it becomes, in some measure, confounded with the Syrians and blended with the Babylonians. Rejecting as fabulous the list of monarchs inserted by Ctesias, some of whose names, from their very construction, are not of Assyrian origin, we look to the celebrated canon of Ptolemy as supplying the next best information to that of the Scriptures; and the first name of eminence upon this authority is that of Nabonassar, probably a descendant of the first Assyrian monarch mentioned in

Ptolemy's canon.

3 Strabo, L. XVI. p. 1071.

4 Euseb. Præp. L. IX. C. 17. p. 418. Quint. Curt. Lib. V. C. 1. Abydenus, apud Euseb. Præp. L. IX. C. 15. Syncellus, p. 44.

the Bible, Pul. This prince has been thought, with a high degree Pul. of probability, to have been afterwards worshipped by the Babylonians, who were well content to be considered as of Assyrian origin, under the name Bel, or Belus. We make no pretence to fix the date of the Assyrian monarchy; but, taking Pul as the earliest sovereign of eminence of whom we have any certain information, we shall find his first appearance in the formidable character of an invader, in the second year of the reign of Menahem, amidst the treasons, tumults, and usurpations which, in that age, oppressed the kingdom of Israel, about a.m. 3231, B.C. 773. Having now found land on which to set our foot, after being tossed upon an ocean of conjecture, we shall be able to trace rapidly, yet distinctly, the Assyrian succession, until it merges in the distinguished and united sovereignty of Nebuchadnezzar. To Pul succeeded Tiglath-pileser, who was contemporary with TiglathAhaz, king of Judah, (whether he were the son of Pul or not, is a Pi point which historians cannot determine,) and Archbishop Usher, who is in most cases to be relied upon, has fallen into the mistake of supposing him to have been Sardanapalus, in which he is followed by Prideaux and Rollin, but ably refuted by the writers of the Ancient Universal History; who justly observe, that Pul being, upon the most authentic records, supposed to be the founder of the Assyrian empire, as to its greatness, and Sardanapalus being generally admitted to have been the last of the Assyrian monarchs, it would, to adopt the learned primate's opinion, lead to the supposition, that this mighty monarchy began and ended at nearly the same time; nor could there be any space for the known reigns of sovereigns succeeding Pul, whose existence and exploits are by no means problematical. The alliance of this prince with the king of Judah, and Alliance the fatal consequences of it to that unhappy monarch, as it conduced w still more to those idolatrous propensities with which he was already but too much infatuated, have appeared in their proper places in the history of Israel and Judah.

To Tiglath-pileser succeeded Shalmaneser, whose existence and Shalmapower are not only to be gathered from indisputable ancient records, weser. but must be considered as established beyond all doubt by the circumstance that to him the Israelites yielded their long-defended sovereignty; a blow from which they never afterwards fully recovered.

Sennacherib was the successor of Shalmaneser. Hitherto, from Sennacherib. the days of Pul, Assyria, in the zenith of her glory, is evidently the mistress of surrounding nations, and of Babylon and the Medes among the rest, the last of whom seemed to have been the most impatient of the yoke, and the earliest disposed to shake it off. Upon these principles we may account for the haughty and insulting menaces of Sennacherib to Hezekiah, and his boast of having subdued the gods of all the neighbouring countries. The miraculous defeat of

with Ahaz.

5 The more common opinion is, that Nimrod was Belus, as we have formerly stated.

Esar. haddon.

his army has its proper record in another place, under the article ISAIAH; but his political influence was dreadfully weakened by this unexpected blow, and he himself soon after suffered assassination from the hand of two of his own children, who fleeing to escape the consequences of the murder which they had perpetrated, left the throne to be occupied by another of his sons, Esar-haddon.

This prince, whose name is also written Assarhaddon, and variously by some of the Jewish prophets, and by the LXX, succeeded indeed to the throne, but not to the power of his insolent and unfortunate predecessor. The Assyrian monarchy had long existed in obscurity, and amidst fluctuating circumstances, scarcely distinguished from surrounding nations, and divided into petty sovereignties. It had risen to eminence, under a succession of enterprising conquerors ; Pul standing at the head of them; had assumed the most extensive domination over other states; and had spread its line of territory beyond its own power of control. Dominion acquired by violence, and by rapid conquests especially, must always be subject to fearful reverses; and what one adventurer can win, another excited by his exploits, may recover. The glory of Assyria was now waning, and the Medes, revolting from the sceptre of Sennacherib, could not be reduced by that of Esar-haddon. By some circumstances auspicious to his situation, but which are not distinctly explained in any quarter, he ascended the throne of Babylon, and soon found himself able to assume, like his predecessors, the attitude of a conqueror. He subdued both Egypt and Ethiopia, and having recovered to his crown its ancient lustre, he expired after a long reign, which became most distinguished as it drew nearer its termination.

With this monarch the light of sacred history is awhile withdrawn

from us, and other lights but feebly serve to disperse the gloom. Subsequent There is a chasm in the records of the Bible from Esar-haddon to Scripture

Nebuchadnezzar; respecting which it will be sufficient to remember accounted

that the history of the Israelites is the object of the sacred historians, and that other nations occupy their pages only incidentally, and as they are, by events affecting the Jewish monarchy, brought into contact with that people. Hence appear the names of the Assyrian conquerors, from Pul to Esar-haddon, on these records; and, after a blank occasioned by the separation of the Assyrian interests from those of Judah, the mighty sovereign of Babylon, by whom the house of David was led captive and his throne overturned, arises, as it were, at once in the plenitude of power, and adding to his many crowns the sacred diadem of the Jews. The links of the intermediate narrative are supplied by parts of the Apocryphal books, by Herodotus and Ptolemy's canon; from which, unitedly, we gather that Esar-haddon was succeeded by his son Saosduchinus; by whom it has been conjectured Manasseh, king of Judah, was set at liberty, and during whose reign of twenty years Egypt resumed her independence. His son and successor was Chyniladan, supposed to be the

silence of

for.

Saosduchi. nus.

and Judith.

Nabuchadonosor of the book of Judith, to whose reign, therefore, Chyniladan, those events recorded in that book, so far as they happened at all, a

or Nabucha.

donosor. must be referred. It appears, in general, that the Medes had acquired independency, and having conquered the Persians, were strong enough to threaten even the Assyrian empire; that in this emergency the Assyrian monarch called together his tributary provinces, some of whom refused to obey the summons. He mustered, however, an army of considerable strength, and marching against the Medes, defeated them, seized upon their capital, and slew their monarch. After his victory, the Assyrian monarch resolved to turn his arms against the nations who had refused to assist him in his war with the Medes, and setting no limits to his wrath, included the Jews among other objects of his vengeance. The tale of their deliverance, and the defeat of his general Holofernes, by the hand Holofernes of Judith, is too long to insert here, especially as we are doubtful as to its authenticity in respect of the heroine, although the general facts themselves receive confirmation from other ancient historians. It will be sufficient to remark, that the expedition was unsuccessful, and the Assyrian empire considerably weakened.

Sarac is said to have succeeded him; and his character and fate Sarac, seem to accord with the Sardanapalus of Ctesias, as Esar-haddon Sardar

probably has been supposed by the writers of the Ancient Universal History Jus. to have been the heroic Sardanapalus of other profane historians: it being evident, from Suidas, that there were two persons of that name, said to have been kings of Assyria, the one as brave as the last (supposed to be Sarac) was effeminate. Nabopalassar having Nabopa

lassar. the command of his Chaldean forces, seized upon the throne of Babylon; and to strengthen his usurpation by a powerful alliance, he demanded and obtained for his son, Nebuchadnezzar, the hand of the daughter of Astyages, who was governor of Media. The Medes and Babylonians thus united, subordinated the ancient dynasties of Assyria to the rising empire of Babylon.

Thus are we introduced to the illustrious object of this article ; but before we enter upon his life, so far as we can gather its particulars, it is necessary still further to remark, that Babylon was long in subjection to Assyria ; and that the Babylonians and Assyrians were two ramifications of the same family. It seems pretty evident that Nabonassar, who was the first king, or ruler, of Babylon, was a younger son, whose elder brother, Tiglath-pileser, was king of Assyria, residing at Nineveh, the ancient capital of that empire. Some writers have hence conjectured that Nabonassar was the Ninus Nabonassar, of Ctesias, and that Semiramis (supposing her ever to have existed) M

probably was his wife; who, holding the reins of government for a short time after her husband's death, bestowed much attention to the beauty or Nadius,

probably strength of the rising city of Babylon. Nadius (not improbably the Ninyas. Ninyas of Ctesias.) succeeded, and reigned two years. Chinzirus, Chinzirus, Porus, Jugæus, are undistinguished names that now appear in the Jugæus.

Ninus.

Porus,

em pad, or

Belibus,
Apronadius,

sar, or Nebuchad. nezzar.

Berosus.

Mardoc- line of succession. Mardoc-empad, the Merodach-baladan of the Merodach

Scriptures, acquires some notice as the monarch who congratulated baladan. Hezekiah upon his recovery; and the first who held any intercourse

with the kings of Judah. He had possibly some sinister intention to draw Hezekiah into a secret alliance with him, favourable to his

ambitious designs against Assyria, whose yoke, although perhaps Arkianus, one of consanguinity, was not always light. Arkianus, Belibus,

ug, Apronadius, Regibelus, Mesessimordacus, in rapid and not regular Regibelus, succession, made way, after an interregnum of eight years, for EsarMesessimordacus. haddon, to the throne of Babylon. Then followed the princes of

Assyria and Babylon, unitedly, as we have stated, until Nabopalassar rent Babylon from Assyria, seized the crown of the former, and,

allied with the Medes, finally overthrew that ancient monarchy in Nabocolas- its distinct form, merging it in the empire of Babylon, and transher mitting its condensed authority to his son, Nabocolassar, the Nebu

chadnezzar of Scripture.

Important as is the character of this conqueror to different nations, it is far from being evident what was the nature of his exploits before he appears to us in the pages of the Bible; and even of those which are known, it is not possible to fix the date. On the authority of Berosus, he is said to have conquered Egypt, and to have been called thence, or from Judea, to the throne, upon the death of his father; a statement, which, however, neither accords with general probability, with the history of Egypt, nor with the necessities of the Babylonish empire, then beginning to establish itself in its independence. That Nebuchadnezzar in the event subjugated Egypt is an indisputable fact, repeatedly foretold by the Jewish prophets; but it was not at the time assigned by Berosus for the transaction. Egypt was, before the death of Nabopalassar, a more powerful state than Babylon. The father of Nebuchadnezzar required all the mighty genius of his son, combined with his own, to seat him firmly upon a throne which had recently asserted its independence. And whether Nebuchadnezzar were really ever associated with his father in the empire, or whether, as age and infirmity fell upon him, Nabopalassar resigned the reigns of government to his son, does not distinctly appear. It can only be our business, in conveying the best information upon the different subjects of this work which we can collect, to refer to all the remaining sources whence the most ample and authentic intelligence may be derived; and perhaps an Encyclopædia of reference alone would be found a desideratum in the literary world: but we may be permitted, in justice to our predecessors in these intricate paths, to observe, that on the very obscure topics, which we have introduced in this article as necessarily associated with the name of Nebuchadnezzar, more patient research, more learned criticism, and more impartial statements, are not any where to be found than in the pages of the Ancient Universal History, relative to the Assyrian and Babylonian monarchies.

Uncertain ties.

« 前へ次へ »