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the arm of Jehovah; for that the one was a broken reed, that would pierce the hand of him who should lean thereon; and as for the other, "Know ye not," said they, in the name of their master, "what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand, . . . . that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand?"* Therefore did he summon the people to submit, that they might be taken to a land abounding with corn and oil, where they might live and not die.
It was on this memorable occasion that Hezekiah called upon the name of the Lord. And the arm of the Almighty was stretched forth; and, of the multitude of armed Assyrians that followed their king to battle, 185,000 men were in one night smitten dead. The rest, terrorstruck, fled with their baffled monarch, and returned with speed to Nineveh, where, soured by disappointments, he became so cruel and tyrannical as to exhaust the endurance even of his own family, and was at length put to death by his two sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, while performing his devotions in the temple of Nisroch his god.t
The decline of the Assyrian power may be dated from the reign of this prince. His father's losses before Tyre, and his own in Judea, with his subsequent misrule and death, were probably the exciting causes of a second revolt of the Medes, who were desirous to throw off the yoke. And though Esarhaddon (according to Ptolemy, Asaradin; to Tobit, Sarchedon;‡ to Isaiah, Sargons), third son of the murdered monarch, in B.C. 710, and his successor, exerted himself to maintain the integrity of the empire, he was unable to reduce the rebels to subjection, who soon after were formed into a separate monarchy under their first king, Dejoces, B.C. 704.
These events have led some to regard Esarhaddon as the warlike Sardanapalus who resisted the efforts of his rebellious subjects with so much fortitude. That he was an equitable¶ as well as a courageous prince, seems probable,
2 Chron., xxxii., 13-15.
+ Tobit, i., 21. 2 Kings, xix., 37. 2 Chron., xxxii., 21. Tobit, i., 21.
Isaiah, xx., 1.
Ancient Universal History, vol. iv., p. 327, 329.
and his reverses in the north were counterbalanced by successes in the southwest; for he reduced Babylon-whose king, Evil Merodach, had revolted from the Assyrian sway -and then advanced into Syria, to recover the ground lost by his father. He took from the kingdom of Israel the few remaining subjects left by his ancestors, thus expunging it from the list of nations; and reducing that of Judah to utter dependance, carried its king Manasseh in chains to Babylon. From thence he pursued his victorious career into Egypt and Ethiopia, making a multitude of captives,t and returned, having, in a great degree, revived the splendour of the Assyrian monarchy.
Chronologists; have introduced a king between Esarhaddon and Saosducheus, under the name of Ninus III., who does not appear in Scripture, and whose reign is said to have commenced in the very year when the Saosducheus of Ptolemy's canon took possession of the throne of Nineveh and Babylon, viz., B.C. 667.
At all events, he was succeeded by Saosducheus, of whom little is related, except that he reigned twenty years, and was followed by his son Chyniladan, B.C. 647.
This prince is supposed by the authors of the Universal Historys to be the Nabuchodonosor of the book of Judith, an active and warlike sovereign, who, alarmed at the encroachments of the Medes, raised a great army, and on the plain of Ragau (Rhages) utterly defeated Arphaxad (or Phraortes), the Median monarch, putting him to death in the neighbouring mountains, whither he had fled after the battle. Returning to Nineveh, which even then, according to the book of Judith, and also to Herodotus, was in its power and glory, he feasted his army a hundred and twenty days; after which he sent Holofernes to punish those vassals who had resisted his authority, and refused the aid he required in his late campaigns. His general's expedition was fortunate for a season. Such as did not fall or flee before him submitted to the will of his master, until he proceeded against the Jews, and invested Bethulia, a hillfortress, encamping in a valley near the place, "spreading themselves in breadth over Dothaim even to Belmaim, and + Isaiah, xx., 4.
* 2 Chron., xxxiii., 11.
Blair, Hales, and others. Dr. Russell follows them.
We refer to the fourth volume of this valuable work, p. 328, for the grounds on which this opinion is supported.
Judith, i., 16.
in length from Bethulia unto Cyamon, which is over against Esdraelon." There he fell, as is well known, a victim to his own inordinate passions, by the hand of the Jewish heroine Judith, who had devoted herself to destroy him in order to save her country;t and the Assyrians, panic-struck at the loss of their leader, fled to their own country, pursued with great slaughter by the enemies they had despised.
It seems not improbable that, in the successful warfare of Nabuchodonosor with the Medes, the great feast held after it, and the dispersion and slaughter of the Assyrians themselves subsequently to the death of Holofernes, we may discover the events which have been confounded by Ctesias, and form his conclusion to the reign of Thonos Concolerus.
Of Chyniladan we hear no more, but that he was succeeded by a king called by Polyhistor, Sarac-probably the Sardanapalus of Justin and other modern authors-in 636 B.C.; but, less able or less fortunate than his predecessor, he lost all that had been wrested from the Medes, and his power was reduced so low that Nabopolassar, the governor of Babylon, to whom he had committed the command of his forces in that country, thought it a fit occasion to throw off the Assyrian yoke. Entering into an alliance with Cyaxares the Mede, he assisted that prince in his attack upon Sarac, and the city of Nineveh was invested by the combined troops. This unfortunate ruler, whose mind had been enfeebled by misfortune, dreading to fall into the hands of his enemies, put an end to his life by burning the palace in which his wealth and family were bestowed in the manner related by Ctesias in reference to Concolerus. But some confusion of dates appears here, by which it seems doubtful whether this event was not suspended at least twenty-eight years; for at this period the Scythians overran Central Asia, against whom the combined Median and Babylonian force found full employment for their arms. In the mean time, Nabopolassar died, leaving the kingdom to his son, the celebrated Nebuchadnezzar (or Nabuchodonosor), who completed the destruction of the Assyrian pow
*Judith, vii., 3.
The authors of the Universal History advert to the probability of the story of Judith being fictitious. The point need not be discussed here; we refer our readers, if curious on the subject, to that book, vol. iv., p. 173, and to Prideaux.
er about 606 B.C. The great city of Nineveh, levelled to the ground by Cyaxares, no longer lifted her head among nations. In process of time, indeed, other towns rose from amid its ruins, and flourished, and decayed, and were forgotten; but even at the present day the site of that great and mighty capital may be traced upon the banks of the Tigris.
The empire itself, however, was now no more; the word of God had gone forth against it, and its power was withered, its glory passed away. Behold, the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick boughs. The waters made him great, the deep set him up on high with her rivers running round about his plants, and sent out her little rivers unto all the trees of the field. Therefore his height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long, because of the multitude of waters when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by great waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir-trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut-trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty. I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches; so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height, I have delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness. And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him; upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down 'from his shadow, and have left him. Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches: to the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their
height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit,"* &c.
Rise and Fall of the Babylonian Empire.
The only authentic Record contained in Holy Writ.-Ptolemy's Canon affords the only true Chronology.-Nabonassar.-Merodach Baladan. - Esarhaddon, the warlike King of Assyria. - Nabopolassar. - His Power.-Nabocolassar or Nebuchadnezzar.-Aids in the Destruction of Nineveh.-Overruns Syria, and carries the Jews into Captivity.Humbles Pharaoh.-His Dreams.-Divine Predictions.-His Humiliation-Repentance-And Death.-Evil Merodach.-The Belshazzar of Daniel. Murdered by Neriglissar, who probably is identical with Darius the Mede.-He seizes the Throne-And is slain in Battle.-Laborosoarchod.-Nabonadius.-Nitocris.-Her Acts and Improvements.-Babylon attacked by Cyrus.-Taken by turning the Euphrates.-Fulfilment of the Prophecies.-Gradual Decay of Babylon.-Its Destruction by Darius-By Xerxes.--Seleucia.-Accounts of its Desolation by various Authors.
It is now requisite to turn back nearly a century and a half, that we may discover the establishment of the contemporary kingdom of Babylon, the history of which is so intimately connected with that of Assyria that it is impossible to disunite them.
It has been already observed, that the only authentic notice of what is generally supposed to have been the origin of the ancient Babylonian power-the first monarchy of the postdiluvian world-is contained in three verses of the 10th chapter of Genesis; that the lists of Chaldean and Arabian kings given by Syncellus, Polyhistor, and Moses of Chorene, are entitled to no credit, because they rest not on any authentic ground; and that there is no mention of any ruler of Babylon before Merodach Baladan, who, B.C. 710, wrote to Hezekiah.† Prior to this time, however,
* Ezekiel, xxxi., 3-14.
There is, it is true, mention made in Gen., iv., 1, 2, of Amraphel, king of Shinar, who warred with the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah in the days of Abraham.