Изображения страниц

look upon such a prophet as a madman, and show no further attention to his message than to deride and despise it; and yet such an event would not be more strange and incredible than the destruction and devastation of Nineveh. For Nineveh was much the larger, and much the stronger, and older city of the two; and the Assyrian empire had subsisted and flourished more ages than any form of government in this country; so that you cannot object the instability of the eastern monarchies in this case. Let us then... suppose again, that things should succeed according to the prediction; the floods should arise, and the enemy should come, the city should be overflown and broken down, be taken and pillaged, and destroyed so totally, that even the learned could not agree about where it was situated. What would be said or thought in such a case? Whoever of posterity should read and compare the prophecy and event together, must they not by such an illustrious instance be thoroughly convinced of the providence of God, and of the truth of his prophet, and be ready to acknowledge, Verily this is the word that the Lord hath spoken, verily there is a God that judgeth the earth?'"*

[ocr errors]

(8.) BABYLON, whose destruction and utter ruin were predicted by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, &c., was situated in the midst of a large plain, having a very deep and fruitful soil, on the Euphrates, about 252 miles south-east of Palmyra, and the same distance north-west of Susa, and the Persian gulf, in lat. 32° 30′ N., and long. 44° 20′ E. According to Herodotus, it formed a perfect square, each side of which was 120 stadia, and consequently its circumference 480 stadia, or 60 miles; inclosed by a wall 200 cubits high, and fifty wide; on the top of which were small watchtowers, of one story high, leaving a space between them, through which a chariot and four might pass and turn. On each side were 25 gates of solid brass; from each of which proceeded a street, 150 feet broad, making in all 50 streets; which, crossing each other at right angles, intersected the city into 676 squares, extending four stadia and a half on each side, along which stood the houses, all built three or four stories high, and highly decorated towards the street; the interior of these squares being employed as gardens, pleasure grounds, &c. Its principal ornaments were the temple of Belus, having a tower of eight stories, upon a base of a quarter of a mile square; a most magnificent palace; and the famous hanging gardens, or artificial mountains raised upon arches, and planted with large and beautiful trees. But the celebrated and costly buildings of Babylon had been erected by the spoils of conquered nations, and by the blood of multitudes; and in the righteous judgment of God, the royal family was destined soon to be ruined, the seat of empire removed, and the city itself finally destroyed, as declared by the prophet Habakkuk. Houses built, and fortunes made by such iniquitous means, in most cases become as chaff before the whirlwind of God's indignation.

* Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks to Nahum. + Idem, Note on Isa. 13. 18.

[blocks in formation]

Cyrus was the instrument selected to effect this purpose of the Almighty, "He who saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus, he is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure," (Isa. 44. 27, 28.) which alludes to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus (here foretold by name more than a century before his birth), by laying the bed of the Euphrates dry, and leading his army into the city by night through the empty channel of the river. This remarkable circumstance, in which the event actually corresponded with the prophecy, was also noted by the prophet Jeremiah. In order to qualify him for the great work to which he was called, Jehovah declared that "he would hold his anointed Cyrus by the right hand, to subdue nations before him;" (Isa. 45. 1.) and accordingly, Xenophon, (1. 1,) says that Cyrus conquered the Syrians, Assyrians, Arabians, Cappadocians, both the Phrygians, Lydians, Carians, Phoenicians, Babylonians; and also reigned over the Bactrians, Indians, Cilicians, the Sacæ, Paphlagones, and Mariandyni. † Thus was fulfilled

this prediction, and another of the same prophet, (ch. 41. 25) in which Jehovah declares, "I have raised up one from the north, and he shall come from the rising of the sun shall he call upon my name: and he shall come upon princes as upon morter, and as the potter treadeth clay." Here it should be remarked, that Media lay north of Babylon, and Persia eastward; and Cyrus commanded the forces of both these nations; and by his wonderful success, he trampled down mighty monarchs as mortar, and as the potter treads the clay.t Cyrus had conquered Armenia, as well as Croesus, king of Lydia, and subdued several nations from the Egean sea to the Euphrates, before he marched against Babylon; and Xenophon expressly informs us, that there were not only Armenians, but both Phrygians and Cappadocians in the army of Cyrus, (Cyr. 1. 3. 7.) Thus the Lord "called together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Aschenaz." (Jer. 51. 28.) And the army of Cyrus was composed of Medes, Persians, Armenians, Caducians, Sacæ, and other nations which he had conquered; all of which, arranged under the Medes, came from the north, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, (ch. 50. 9.) "I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country," &c.t Babylon was replenished from all nations by a concourse of people, whom Jeremiah (ch. 50. 37.) calls the mingled people,' y, airev; and Eschylus (in Pers. v. 52), denominates the inhabitants of the same capital παμμικτον όχλον, a mixture of all sorts.' All these, at the approach of Cyrus, sought to escape to their several countries. wandered every one to his quarter; none saved her." (Isa. 47. 15.)†

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

The Babylonians after the loss of a battle or two, never recovered their courage to face the enemy in the field: they retired within their walls; and the first time that Cyrus came with his army before the place, he could not provoke them to venture forth, though he challenged the king to fight a duel with him; and the last time he came, he consulted with his officers respecting the best mode of carrying on the siege, 'since,' said he, they do not come out to fight.' (Xenophon, 1. v. vii.) Thus "the mighty men of Babylon forebore to fight, they remained in their holds: their might failed; they became as women." (Jer. 41.30.)* The city at this time was furnished with provisions for twenty years, and the void ground within the walls was able both by tillage and pasturage to supply them with much more. (See Q. Curtius, l. v. c. 1. Herodotus, l. i. c. 190.)† And from the impregnable nature of their fortifications, they might deem themselves secure; but God "had laid a snare for them;" and when "she was not aware," (Jer. 50. 24,) Cyrus took the city by surprise, by diverting the waters of the Euphrates; though the Euphrates being more than two furlongs broad, and deeper than two men standing upon one another, the city was thought to be better fortified by the river than by the walls. (Xenophon, Cyr. 1. vii.) Yet Cyrus, by draining the channel, marched his army into the heart of the city. (Herodotus, 1. i. c. 191.) And thus "a drought was upon her waters, and she was dried up." (Jer. 50. 31.)* All the streets of Babylon, leading on each side to the river, were secured by two leaved brazen gates; and these were providentially left open when Cyrus' forces entered the city in the night through the channel of the river, in the general disorder occasioned by the great feast which was then celebrated; otherwise, says Herodotus, (i. 180. 191.) the Persians would have been shut up in the bed of the river as in a net, and all destroyed. Jehovah thus "opened before him the two leaved gates; and the gates were not shut. He went before him, and made the crooked places straight: he broke in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron." (Isa. 45. 1.)* Gobrias and Gadates, when they entered Babylon, marched directly to the palace, killing all they met; and the gates of the palace having been imprudently opened to ascertain the occasion of the tumult, the two parties under them rushed in, got possession of the palace, and slew the king. (Xenophon, Cyr. lib. vii.) And thus "her young men fell in the streets, and all her men of war were cut off." (Jer. 50. 30.)* Besides the immense store found by Cyrus, a sword was upon her treasures; and they were robbed." (Jer. 50. 37.) The amount of the gold and silver taken by Cyrus when he conquered Asia, according to the account of Pliny, (1. xxxiii. c. 15.) was £126,224,000 of our money, to which Sardis and Babylon greatly contributed.

[ocr errors]

After this period Babylon was no more called "the lady of kingdoms." (Isa. 47. 5.) Instead of being the lady of kingdoms,' the metropolis

• Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.

+ Idem, Note on Je. 50. 26.

of a great empire, and mistress of all the East, it became subject to the Persians; and the imperial seat being removed to Susa, instead of having a king, it had only a deputy residing there, who governed it as a province of the Persian empire.* Cyrus having diverted the waters of the Euphrates, which ran through the midst from their channel, and the river being never restored to its proper course, overflowed the whole country, and made it a morass. And eventually it has become "a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and has been swept with the besom of destruction." (Isa. 14. 23.)† Darius Hystaspes afterwards took the city by stratagem, after a siege of twelve months, A. M. 3888. B. C. 516, put 300,000 of the inhabitants to death, demolished or took away the 100 gates of brass, and beat down their walls from 200 to 50 cubits (Herodotus, 1. iii. c. 159.); and now not a vestige of these immense fortifications remains, to mark the site of this once mighty city! "The broad walls of Babylon were utterly broken, and her high gates burned with fire." (Jer. 51. 58.)* Xerxes destroyed all the temples of Babylon, B, C. 479. (Herodotus, l. i. c. 183, &c.) thus verifying the prediction of Jeremiah, that the Lord would "do judgment upon her graven images," (Jer. 51.52.)* "Bel boweth down, Nebo stoopeth, their idols were upon the beasts, and upon the cattle your carriages were heavy loaden; they are a burden to the weary beast. They stoop, they bow down together; they could not deliver the burden, but themselves are gone into captivity." (Isa. 46. 1, 2.) Bel, called Belus, by the Greek and Roman writers, was the same as Baal; and Nebo is interpreted by Castell and Norberg of Mercury; the two principal idols of Babylon. When the city was taken by the Persians, these images were carried in triumph. (See Selden, De diis Syris, c. i. xii. cum addit. Beyeri.) The building of Seleucia nearly exhausted it of its inhabitants; a king of the Parthians carried a number of them into slavery, and destroyed the most beautiful parts.§ Strabo says, (l. xvi.) in his time, about the Christian æra, a great part of it was a desert; Jerome says, that in his time, cir. A. D. 340, it was quite in ruins, the walls merely serving for an inclosure for wild beasts, for the hunting of the kings of Parthia; and modern travellers universally concur in describing it in a state of utter desolation, a mass of shapeless ruins, and the habitation of wild beasts, and noxious reptiles. (See Benjamin of Tudela, Itin. p. 76. Texeira, c. 5. Rauwolff, P. ii. c. 6. Della Valle, P. ii. ep. 17. Tavernier, vol. ii. b. ii. c. 5. Rich's Two Memoirs on the ruins of Babylon; and Sir R. K. Porter's Travels, vol. ii. pp. 308—400.)|| Thus have the remarkable predictions respecting the final destruction of Babylon received their completion. The prophecy of Jeremiah (upwards of a century after those of Isaiah) "that none should remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever" (Jer. 51. 62.) was delivered 56 years before the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, 79 before

* Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.

+ Idem, Note on Is. 13. 18

its capture by Darius, 150 before the time of Herodotus, 250 before that of Xenophon, and 2421 from the present time; and all historians, geographers, and travellers agree to shew that these predictions have been successively accomplished to the latest period!*

(9.) TYRE, whose destruction by Nebuchadnezzar is foretold by Isaiah, (ch. 23. 1, 14.) and Ezekiel, (ch. xxvi. xxvii.) was a city of Phoenicia, on the shore of the Mediterranean, 24 miles south of Sidon, and 32 north of Accho or Ptolemais, according to the Antonine and Jerusalem Itineraries, about lat. 33° 18′ N. long. 35° 10′ E. There were two cities of this name; one on the continent called Palæ Tyrus, or old Tyre, according to Strabo (1. xvi.) 30 stadia south of the other, which was situated on an island, not above 700 paces from the main land, says Pliny, (l. v. c. 18.) Old Tyre was taken and utterly destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, after a siege of 13 years, B. C. 573, (Josephus, Ant. 1. x. c. 11. Cont. Ap. l. i.) During this long siege, the soldiers must have endured great hardships: their heads would become bald by constantly wearing their helmets; and their shoulders be peeled by carrying materials to form the works. "Every head was made bald, and every shoulder peeled: yet had he (Nebuchadnezzar) no wages, for his army, for Tyrus, for the service that he had served against it." (Ezek. 30. 18.) St. Jerome asserts, (in Is. 23. 6. and in loc.) on the authority of the Assyrian histories, that when the Tyrians saw their city must fall, they put their most valuable effects on board their ships, and fled with them to the islands, and their colonies, so that the city being taken, Nebuchadnezzar found nothing worthy of his labour.'*


Old Tyre was never rebuilt after its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar, never afterwards rose higher than a village, and there are now no traces left to mark its site, (see Pococke, vol. ii. b. i. c. 20.) But the inhabitants having removed their effects to the island, it afterwards became famous again by the name of Tyre. It arose out of its ruins, after seventy years, and recovered its ancient wealth and splendour, as foretold by Isaiah, (ch. 23. 15-17.) "And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot. Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody, sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered. And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth." It was afterwards, B. C. 332, taken and burnt by Alexander; and the ruins of old Tyre contributed much to the taking of the new city; for with the stones, timber, and rubbish, Alexander built a bank, or causeway, from the continent to the island, thereby literally fulfilling the words of the prophet, (Ezek. 26. 32.) "They shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water." (Q. Curtius, l. iv.

Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.

+ Idem, Note on Isa. 23. 1.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »