« AnteriorContinuar »
Sacred History," and corresponds almost exactly with the one with which the English reader is already familiar in the pages of his Bible.
A few notes regarding the contemporaneous history of the nations by which the chosen people were carried into captivity may not be unwelcome, and may enable the ordinary reader to peruse the following pages with more interest and profit.
The first king of Assyria mentioned by name in the Books of Kings, is Pul, also written Phul. His name, which is Chaldean rather than Assyrian, does not occur in any inscription which has yet been found, but the suggestion has been made that after the first destruction of Nineveh by the Chaldeans (B.C. 789), he may have remained in Assyria as ruler of the country during the next forty years, of which period we have little or no information. Despatches have recently been found written by an officer who bore the same name, but no trace has yet been discovered of the king himself.
The accession of Tiglath-Pileser II. about 745 is beyond dispute. According to Rawlinson he was a
usurper, and according to Lenormant a descend745 ant of the ancient Assyrian dynasty. He is said B.C. to have come inio Syria and Samaria at the call
of Ahaz king of Judah, whose kingdom was menaced by the combined forces of Rezin king of Syria and Pekah king of Israel. Having put Rezin to death, he made Damascus a province, and forced many of the Israelites to emigrate into Armenia. In 731, before leaving Damascus to return to Assyria, he held a court of his vassals at that city, and among them we find the names of Pekah king of Israel and Ahaz king of
Judah. Among the annals of his reign, Mr. George Smith, of the British Museum, has recently discovered notices of Azariah and Ahaz kings of Judah, Menahem Pekah and Hoshea kings of Israel, of Rezin of Damascus, and Hiram of Tyre.
Of Shalmanezer, the next king of Assyria, we have no records save some bronze weights in the British Museum. During his reign the Ethiopians, under a king named Shebek or Sabaco, succeeded in overrunning the whole of Egypt, and establishing a new kingdom in that land. Hoshea, king of Israel, thinking that this new Egyptian power might form a counterpoise to the Assyrian, raised a revolt against Shalman. ezer, which, however, was speedily crushed, and Hoshea himself taken captive.
In 722 Shalmanezer died, and was succeeded by Sargon, whose name has come down to us as that of one of the greatest kings of Assyria. In a long inscription commonly called the “ Acts of Sar- 722 gon," he says :—“I besieged, took, and occupied B.C. the city of Samaria, and carried into captivity 27,280 of its inhabitants. I changed the former government of the country, and placed over it lieutenants of my own," In 710 he marched against Ashdod which had revolted (Is. xx. i.). The account he gives of the turning of the fountains and water-courses to protect this city strikingly reminds us of the preparations which Hezekiah made for the defence of Jerusalem (2 Chron. xxxii. 3, 4). In 704 he was assassinated and his son Sennacherib succeeded him on the throne.
Sennacherib's reign, of which we possess very extensive records, lasted from 704 to 681. In an inscription
on a cylinder in the British Museum, the following statement occurs :-“In my third campaign I marched
towards Syria. . . . The rulers of Ekron had 704 betrayed the king Padi, who was inspired by B.C. friendship and zeal for Assyria, and had given
him up bound in chains of iron to Hezekiah of Judah. I brought Padi their king out of Jerusalem, and restored him to the throne of his royalty. But Hezekiah, king of Judah, did not submit. There were forty-six walled towns and an infinite number of villages that I fought against, humbling their pride and braving their anger. By means of battles, fire, massacre, and siege operations I took them. I occupied them. I brought out 200,150 persons, great and small, men and women, horses, asses, mules, camels, oxen, and sheep, without number, and carried them off as booty. As for himself, I shut him up in Jerusalem, the city of his power, like a bird in its cage. I invested and blockaded the fortresses round about it. Those who came out by the great gate of the city were seized and made prisoners. I separated the cities I plundered from his country, and gave them to Mitenti, king of Ashdod, to Padi, king of Ekron, to Ishmabaal, king of Gaza. Then the fear of my majesty terrified this Hezekiah, king of Judah. He sent away the watchmen and guards whom he had assembled for the defence of Jerusalem. He sent messengers to me at Nineveh, the seat of my sovereignty, with thirty talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, metals, rubies, pearls, great carbuncles, seats covered with skins, thrones ornamented with leather, amber, seal skins, sandal-wood, and ebony, the contents of his treasury, as well as his daughters, the women of his palace, his male and female slaves. He sent an ambassador to present this tribute, and to make his submission.” This inscription, as might have been anticipated, refers only to those circumstances which were flattering to the Assyrians. It says nothing of the disaster which befell them, and by which the host of Sen. nacherib was almost annihilated, when
"The angel of death spread his wings on the blast,
In 681 Sennacherib was assassinated by two of his sons; while another, Esarhaddon by name, who had been viceroy in Babylon after the subjugation of that city by his father, hastened to Nineveh, 681 which had been recently rebuilt with great mag- B.C. nificence, and ascended the throne. His reign, of which extensive records exist in the British Museum, lasted from 681 to 667. It was he who took Manasseh and carried him to Babylon, which, from the fact of his early residence there, he preferred even to Nineveh.
His son and successor, Assurbanipal, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks, was the chief patron of Assyrian literature, and extensive records of his reign have recently been discovered. In one of these, 671 Sabaco, the Ethiopian king of Egypt, is men- B.C. tioned, and, in another, reference is made to his various campaigns against surrounding nations. At his death the Assyrian power began to decline, and at last Nineveh fell before the combined attack of the Medes and Chaldeans under Cyaxares and Nabopo
lassar. Its destruction, which had been foretold by the prophet Nahum, was so complete that from this time it ceased to have any political importance, and its site became almost forgotten.
The seat of empire was now transferred to Babylon, and Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, and son-in-law of Cyaxares, was associated with his father in the government. Leaving Nabopolassar to undertake the management of affairs in Babylon, he set out towards the west to check the
growing power of Egypt and recover the pos605 sessions which had been recently lost. In 605, B.C. the fourth year of Jehoiakim, he met Pharaoh
nechoh at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and having totally defeated him, pursued his army to the borders of Egypt. Hearing that his father was dead, he hastened to Babylon with a small escort, and, having secured the throne for himself, he soon returned to the West to complete the conquests he had begun. The struggle which ensued between the Chaldeans and Egyptians, the miserable condition of the Jews who were always halting between two opinions and refusing to believe that their strength was to sit still, the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the Jewish people,—these are recorded at considerable length by the inspired writers, and need not now be further referred to.