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commences the canon of Ptolemy, the most valuable of uninspired records; and had the chronology of the previous period been certain, and the date of the first revolt of the Medes and Babylonians from the Assyrians under Arbaces and Belesis been accurately fixed, we might have expected to find the commencement of the Babylonian kingdom placed in the year B.C. 821, contemporary with that of the Medo-Assyrian, and Belesis named as the first sovereign. But historians have wisely preferred the accounts of Ptolemy, confirmed by occasional notices in Sacred Writ, to the less certain authority of other profane writers; and he appears to have discovered no king prior to Nabonassar.* It has been established by astronomical calculations that this monarch's reign began on Wednesday, the 26th of February, B.C. 747, in the twenty-third year after the appearance of Pul on the west of the Euphrates. This shows the kingdom to have been of Assyrian origin, and accords with what is stated by the prophet Isaiah: "Behold the land of the Chaldeans: this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof."

It is uncertain who this prince was; but, as he was contemporary with Tiglath-pileser, some have supposed that he may have been his brother, a son of Pul, king of Assyria. This, it is acknowledged, is entirely conjectural; and that he was tributary or subservient to Tiglath-pileser appears more certain. Indeed, the authors of the Universal History are inclined to think that the Semiramis of the Greeks, if she ever did exist as queen of Babylon, must have been the wife of this prince, and that, as her husband commenced the city, she must have exerted herself after his death in beautifying it, from whence she obtained the reputation of being its founder. For the arguments by which this hypothesis is supported, we must refer to the work itself.

Of the three monarchs who, according to the canon, next succeed, nothing is recorded; and Mardoch Empades, the Merodach Baladan of Scripture,‡ fifth on the list, is only

* It has been already observed, that Nabonassar, desirous of being thought the first monarch of the dynasty, destroyed all the records of Babylon that had been preserved in the temple or archives.

+ Chap. xxiii., 13.

2 Kings, xx., 12. Isaiah, xxxix., 1. He is called the son of Baladan,


remarkable as having held communication with the kings of Judah. He sent a special messenger to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery from illness. The next who claims notice is Asaradin, the Esarhaddon of Scripture, who, we have seen, acquired fame as the warlike Sardanapalus of Assyria, and who possibly, on the race of Nabonassar becoming extinct or rebellious, B.C. 680, took possession of the sovereignty. It was he who utterly swept away the people of Israel, and carried Manasseh, king of Judah, with him in chains to Babylon. Of his successors, Saosducheus and Chyniladan, we have already spoken, as masters at once of Assyria and Babylon.

The most brilliant period of the Babylonian history now approached. Nabopolassar, having broken the power, if not destroyed the city of Nineveh, removed the seat of empire to his capital. During the time when the forces of these allies were employed in repelling the Scythian invasion, Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, attempted to recover his former possessions in Syria; and, in his way to besiege the city of Carchemish, overthrew the King of Judah, who lost his life in the encounter.* Nabopolassar was succeeded by his son Nobocolassar (or Nebuchadnezzar), who, after driving out the Syrians, co-operated with Cyaxares in destroying Nineveh. Having resolved to punish other invaders, he marched at the head of a powerful army against the Egyptians, who had formed an alliance with the revolted tribes on the western bank of the Euphrates. In this enterprise he was not only successful, but on his return entered Judea, took Jerusalem, rifled the temple, and made the king a prisoner. The humble submission of the fallen Jehoiakim, and the promise of a yearly tribute, saved him from the fate of the other captives, who were sent in chains to Babylon. Pursuing his victorious career, he humbled Pharaoh; and, after making himself master of the whole country between the Nile and the Euphrates, he returned to Babylon, loaded with spoil and encumbered with captives, when he began to enlarge and embellish the seat of his growing empire.

In this he eminently succeeded, though he himself lived to experience the lowest degree of human degradation as well as of grandeur. His history is familiar to every

* 2 Chron., xxxv., 20-24.

reader of Scripture. The revelation which he had in the second year of his reign* was the commencement of a series of Divine intimations which accompanied his career, and were not more remarkable in themselves than for the manner of their fulfilment. The dream in question troubled Nebuchadnezzar the more, because in the morning "the thing had gone from him;" and although, with the unreasonable caprice of a despotic prince, he threatened the Chaldeans, the magicians, and the wise men with death, unless they should interpret his vision, he could give them no aid whatever in describing its tenour or its


The tyrannical mandate had already gone forth, and the soothsayers of Babylon trembled under the upraised sword of their executioners, when they were saved by the faith and courage of Daniel, a young Hebrew, who, with three companions, had, by the command of the king, been educated in the Magian sciences, and whose life was thus involved in the general sentence of destruction. Remonstrating with the captain of the guard, who was intrusted with the execution of the royal decree, he boldly pledged himself to declare the interpretation to his majesty, and, together with his associates, prayed "to the God of heaven concerning this secret, and it was revealed unto Daniel in a night vision." And he returned thanks to the Lord, and blessed his name, and made known to the monarch both his dream and its interpretation.

Nebuchadnezzar proceeded in his appointed course, each step of which was the subject of a prophetic annunciation. The unfortunate people of Judah, already heavily visited, fell under his displeasure; for Jehoiakim, having, in spite of the warnings of the faithful Jeremiah,† thrown off his allegiance, lost his life miserably, while his son Jehoiachin, who went out with his mother from the city to humble themselves to the conqueror, were made captives. The metropolis was plundered, the temple spoiled, and the inhabitants carried away in such numbers that scarcely were there enough left to cultivate the ground; while the victor, on his return, placed Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, on the tributary throne.

In like manner were the successes of this tyrant against

* Daniel, ii.

+ Chap. xxii., xxvi.

the Elamites or Persians, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Tyrians and others, made the subject of prophetic announcement, and Jeremiah* sent tokens of the impending wrath to the ambassadors of all the devoted powers. Encouraged by Pharaoh Hophra, the people of western Syria renounced their allegiance; but the King of Babylon, an instrument, no doubt, of vengeance in the hand of the Almighty, overthrew first the monarch in whom they had confided, and then, turning his arms against Jerusalem, he destroyed its walls, burned it with fire, and, putting out the eyes of the ill-advised Zedekiah, carried him in chains to the Eastern capital.

The predictionst against Tyre and Egypt still remained to be accomplished. A thirteen years' siege of the first at length gave to the conqueror possession of an empty city, for the inhabitants had retired to a neighbouring island with their effects, though his army, meanwhile, was successfully employed in reducing to obedience the Sidonians, the Ammonites, and the Edomites.

But the plunder of Egypt compensated for his disappointment at Tyre; and, having laid waste that land, "from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia," he returned to his capital.

With the gold amassed in these various expeditions, and especially with the spoils of the Temple of Jerusalem, it is supposed he erected the colossal statue in honour of his god Bel, which he placed in the plain of Dura, and commanded his subjects, of whatever nation or faith, to fall down and worship it. The beautiful story of the three Hebrew youths, who, refusing to comply with this tyrannical and unholy mandate, were in consequence cast into the fiery furnace, is well known to every reader of the sacred annals.

But the hour of retribution and reverse drew nigh; for scarcely had he returned from this splendid career of victory, when his mind was again disturbed by a singular and ominous dream, which seemed to prefigure events so awful as to shake for a moment even the intrepid soul of the prophet who was called upon to interpret it. "Daniel was astonied for one hour, and his thoughts troubled him."s

* Chap. xxvii.
Ibid., xxix., 10.

+ Ezekiel, xxvi., xxvii., xxviii.
Daniel, iv., 19.

But, recovering his equanimity, he lifted up his voice, and boldly declared the will of the Most High, the terrible sentence which drove the haughty monarch to herd with the beasts of the field. Nor was the fulfilment of this dreadful denunciation long deferred, although it appears that the humbling effect of its announcement had been but transitory. Only one year afterward, we find the devoted ruler walking in the front of his palace, contemplating the mighty works of which he had been the author, with a heart, not filled with gratitude and veneration towards the Giver of all good, for the unmerited prosperity which he had bestowed upon him, but swelling with pride and arrogance; saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty ?" But, "while the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O King Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee: and they shall drive thee from among men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar; and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like bird's claws. And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth forever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and, for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me: and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom; and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, and extol, and honour the King of heav

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