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The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity

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    BY the inspiration of the Lord, the ascendency of Assyria was announced seven hundred and twenty-six years before the accession of Hezekiah to the throne of the kingdom of Judah. Before the people of Israel had entered the land of Canaan, while yet they were encamped in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho, Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent messengers to Balaam, the son of Beor, of Pethor, by the Euphrates in Mesopotamia, and called him to curse this people. Balaam came “from Aram, out of the mountains of the east,” to curse Israel as he was hired to do. After he had four times blessed the people instead of having cursed them, “he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said:—EB 257.1

    “Strong is thy dwelling place,
    And thy nest is set in the rock.

    Nevertheless Kain shall be wasted,
    Until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.1[Page 257] Numbers 24:21, 22, R. V.

    2. Between the time at which the previous account of Assyria and Babylon (Chapter VI) closed, and the reign of the king who first mentions any of the kings of Israel or of Judah, there was a space of about six hundred years. In this time the records are much broken; yet from the inscriptions that have been found, it is to be seen that the relations between the two great capitals continued for a considerable time about as they were in the latter part of Chapter VI, with Assyria gradually gaining in power over Babylonia. In this space of time there were two remarkable kings of Assyria, the full accounts of whom have been discovered and translated.EB 257.2

    3. Tiglath-Pileser I was the first of these. He came to the throne about 1120 B. C. He was the greatest conqueror that had yet appeared in the history of Assyria: the greatest, at least, of whom any record has been discovered. He left an inscription of eight hundred and twelve lines, which was found in A. D. 1857; and which has been several times translated, so that it is now as well understood as is any ancient document. However, it is not worth reproducing here to any great extent, as it is only a long and tedious repetition of how that scores, and even hundreds, of cities in different lands were “burned and thrown down and dug up;” how that their inhabitants were impaled, or beheaded, and their heads piled in pyramids at the entrance gates; and how that “their corpses over the valleys and high places of the mountains” he “spread.”EB 258.1

    4. Certainly there could be no profit in reproducing the account of the slaughter of people, that is given by him with great relish and in dreadful detail. And though a study of the geography, the products of the countries named, and the industries of the peoples conquered, is valuable, yet all this can be gained as well from the accounts that must be reproduced here, and which have other value also. He introduces himself in the following style:—EB 258.2

    “Tiglath-Pileser, the powerful king, the king of hosts who has no rival, the king of the four zones, the king of all kinglets, the lord of lords, the shepherd-prince, the king of kings, the exalted prophet, to whom by the proclamation of Samas the illustrious scepter has been given as a gift, so that the men who are subject to Bel, he had ruled in their entirety; the faithful shepherd, proclaimed lord over kinglets, the supreme governor whose weapons Asur has predestinated, and for the government of the four zones has proclaimed his name forever; the capturer of the distant divisions of the frontiers above and below; the illustrious prince whose glory has overwhelmed all regions; the mighty destroyer, who, like the rush of a flood is made strong against the hostile land; by the proclamation of Bel he has no rival; he has destroyed the foeman of Asur.... Countries, mountains, fortresses, and kinglets, the enemies of Asur, I have conquered, and their territories I have made submit. With sixty kings I have contended furiously, and power and rivalry over them I displayed. A rival in the combat, a confronter in the battle, have I not. To the land of Assyria I have added land, to its men I have added men; the boundary of my own land I have enlarged, and all their lands I have conquered.” 2[Page 259] “Records of the Past,” New Series, Vol. i, pp. 93, 94. This whole account of Tiglath-Pileser I is found in that volume, pp. 93-121. All that will be said of him here, is taken from that place.EB 258.3

    5. His genealogy he gives as follows:—EB 259.1

    “Tiglath-Pileser, the great, the supreme, whom Asur and Uras, according to the desire of his heart, conduct, so that after the enemies of Asur he has overrun all their territories, and has utterly slaughtered the overweening.EB 259.2

    “The son of Asur-ris-ilim, the powerful king, the conqueror of hostile lands, the subjugator of all the mighty.EB 259.3

    “The grandson of Mutaggil-Nu’sku, whom Asur the great lord in the conjuration of his steadfast heart had requited, and to the shepherding of the land of Asur had raised securely.EB 259.4

    “The true son of Asur-da’an, the upraiser of the illustrious scepter, who ruled the people of Bel, who the work of his hands and the gift of his sacrifice commended to the great gods, so that he arrived at gray hairs and old age.EB 259.5

    “The descendant of Uras-pileser, the guardian king, the favorite of Asur, whose might like a sling was spread over his country, and the armies of Asur he shepherded faithfully.”EB 259.6

    6. His first campaign, in the beginning of his reign, was against “the Muskaya,” the people of Meshech, who inhabited the country about the source of the Tigris and the northwestern bend of the Euphrates. This, he says, was because “twenty thousand men of the Muskaya and their five kings, ... for fifty years from the lands of Alzi 3[Page 259] “The southern bank of the Euphrates, between Palu and Khini. It formed part of the territory of the Hittites.” and Purukuzzi had taken the tribute and gifts owing to Asur;” and “no king at all in battle had subdued their opposition.” In addition to this, at the beginning of his reign they “to their strength trusted and came down; the land of Kummukh [Commagene] they seized.” This land of Kummukh lay to the south of the people of Meshech, on both sides of the Euphrates from Malatiyeh on the north, to Birejik in the south. Tiglath-Pileser met “their twenty thousand fighting men and their five kings” in that land, and “a destruction of them ... made.” His treatment of them will serve as an example of his conduct in all his expeditions. His own words are as follows:—EB 259.7

    “The bodies of their warriors in destructive battle like the inundator (Rimmon) I overthrew; their corpses I spread over the valleys and the high places of the mountains. Their heads I cut off; at the sides of their cities I heaped them like mounds. Their spoil, their property, their goods, to a countless number I brought forth. Six thousand men, the relics of their armies, which before my weapons had fled, took my feet. I laid hold upon them and counted them among the men of my own country.”EB 260.1

    7. The sum of the conquests of the first five years of his reign is given by himself as follows:—EB 260.2

    “In all, 42 countries and their kings from the fords of the lower Zab and the border of the distant mountains, to the fords of the Euphrates; the land of the Hittites (Khatte) and the Upper Sea of the setting sun [the Mediterranean]; from the beginning of my sovereignty until my fifth year, my hand has conquered. One word in unison have I made them utter. Their hostages have I taken. Tribute and offering have I imposed upon them.”EB 260.3

    8. He overran Babylonia, and “the cities of Dur-Kurigalzu [near Bagdad], Sippara of Samas, Sippara of Anunit, Babylon and Upe [Opis], great strongholds, together with their fortresses, he captured. At that time the city of Agar’sal, together with the city of Lubdi, he devastated.” 4[Page 260] “Records of the Past,” New Series, Vol. iv, p. 31. A favorite expression as to his dealings with the lands that he visited, is, “The land of ... like the flood of the deluge, I overwhelmed.” 5[Page 260] Id., Vol. i, pp. 98, 102, 111.EB 260.4

    9. In the land of the Hittites he captured wild bulls, and took to the city of Assur their hides and their horns. In the land of “Kharrani,” Haran, the former home of Abraham and Terah, he hunted wild animals of such a strange kind, that their hides and their teeth along with live specimens, he took home to his city of Assur. He seems to have had at the city of Assur, a museum, and both horticultural and zoological gardens, for he says: :One hundred and twenty lions, with my stout heart, in the conflict of my heroism, on my feet I slew; and eight hundred lions, in my chariot with javelins I slaughtered. All the cattle of the field and the birds of heaven that fly, among my rarities I placed.... Troops of horses, oxen, and asses, which in the service of the acquisition of my hands countries which I had conquered, as the acquisition of my hands which I took, I collected together; and troops of goats, fallow deer, wild sheep, and antelope, which Asur and Uras the gods who love me have given for hunting, in the midst of the lofty mountains I have taken; their herds I enclosed, their number like that of a flock of sheep I counted....EB 260.5

    10. “The cedar, the likkarin tree, and the allakan tree, from the countries which I had conquered, these trees which among the kings my fathers who were before me none had planted, I took, and in the plantations of my country I planted; and the costly fruit of the plantation, which did not exist in my country, I took. The plantations of Assyria I established. Chariots and horses bound to the yoke, for the mightiness of my country, more than before, I introduced and harnessed. To the land of Asur I added land, to its people I added people. The health of my people I improved. A peaceable habitation I caused them to inhabit.”EB 261.1

    11. All the time of these expeditions he was also carrying on great buildings in his capital of Assur: principally temples to his gods, which, he says, were “beautified like the stars of heaven, and by the art of the workmen, richly carved. Its interior I compacted together like the heart of heaven; its walls like the resplendence of the rising of the stars I adorned.” To the people who should come after, for all time, he speaks upon his monument this parting word:—EB 261.2

    “Whoever my monumental stones and my cylinder shall shatter, shall sweep away, shall throw into the water, shall burn with fire, shall conceal in the dust; in the holy house of the god in a place invisible shall store them up in fragments; shall obliterate the name that is written, and something evil shall devise, and against my monumental stones shall work injury; may Anu and Rimmon the great gods, my lords, fiercely regard him with a withering curse. May they overthrow his kingdom; may they remove the foundation of the throne of his majesty; may they annihilate the fruit of his lordship; may they break his weapons; may they cause destruction to his army; in the presence of his enemies in chains may they seat him. May Rimmon with lighting destructive smite his land; want, hunger, famine, and corpses may he lay upon his country; may he not bid him live for one day; may he root out his name and his seed in the land!EB 261.3

    “Written in the month Kuzallu [Ki’silivu], the 29th day, in the eponymy of Inaili-ya-allak, the chief of the body-guard.”EB 261.4

    12. Assur-natsir-pal II was the other of these two “great” kings of Assyria. He was the greatest robber and destroyer that has yet been found in Assyrian history; and undoubtedly one of the most cruel men that has ever appeared in any history. He reigned twenty-five years, and made at least eleven campaigns of slaughter, robbery, and destruction. Two brief passages only, will be sufficient to show his continuous treatment of the peoples whose countries he invaded, and who chose to defend their country against him. His own record is as follows:—EB 262.1

    “I erected a pyramid at the approach to its chief gate. The nobles, as many as had revolted, I flayed; with their skins I covered the pyramid. Some of these I immured in the midst of the pyramid; others above the pyramid I impaled on stakes; others round about the pyramid I planted on stakes; many at the exit from my own country I flayed; with their skins I clad the fortress walls. The limbs of the chief officers who were the chief officers of the kings who had rebelled, I cut off. I brought Akhi-pababa to Nineveh and flayed him; with his skin I clad the fortress wall of Nineveh....EB 262.2

    “Three thousand of their captives I burned with fire. I left not one alive among them to become a hostage. Khula, the lord of their city, I captured alive with my hand. I built their bodies into pyramids. Their young men and their maidens I burned to ashes. Khula, the lord of their city, I flayed. With his skin I clad the fortress wall of the city of Damdamu’sa.... Their numerous captives I burned with fire. I captured many of their soldiers alive with the hand. I cut off the hands and feet of some; I cut off the noses, the ears, and the fingers of others; the eyes of the numerous soldiers I put out. I built up a pyramid of the living, and a pyramid of heads. In the middle of them I suspended their heads on vine stems in the neighborhood of their city. Their young men and their maidens I burned as a holocaust. The city I overthrew, dug up, and burned with fire. I annihilated it.” 6[Page 262] “Records of the Past,” New Series, Vol. ii, pp. 143, 145. The whole of his account is found in that volume, pp. 134-177.EB 262.3

    13. All this and much more of the like was done in his second and third campaigns, and over and over is repeated in dreadful detail throughout the long account that he left to the dismal glory of himself, and for the information of future ages. Evidently it was with more truth than even he intended, that he gave himself among other self-glorifying titles that of “the unique monster.” His account, however, like that of Tiglath-Pileser I, is worthy of study for the geography, the products, and the condition of the peoples of the countries of the Tigro-Euphrates basin in those times.EB 262.4

    14. A new point with the kings of Assyria that is connected with Assur-natsir-pal II and his successor, at least, is that after the style of the kings of Egypt, they bear the title, “the Sun-god.” The genealogy and the official titles of Assur-natsir-pal as given by himself, are as follows:—EB 263.1

    “Assur-natsir-pal the powerful king, the king of hosts, the king unrivaled, the king of all the four regions of the world; the Sun-god of multitudes of men, the favorite of Bel and Uras, the beloved of Anu and Dagon, the hero of the great gods who bows himself in prayer; the beloved of thy heart, the prince, the favorite of Bel whose high priesthood has seemed good to thy great divinity so that thou hast established his reign; the warrior hero who has marched in the service of Assur his lord, and among the princes of the four regions of the world has no rival; the shepherd of fair shows who fears no opposition; the unique one, the mighty, who has not an opponent; the king who subdues the unsubmissive, who has overcome all the multitudes of men; the powerful hero, who treads upon the neck of his enemies, who tramples upon all that is hostile, who breaks in pieces the squadrons of the mighty, who in reliance on the great gods, his lords, has marched, and whose hand has conquered all lands, has overcome the mountains to their farthest bounds, and has received their tribute, who has taken hostages, who has established empire over all lands.EB 263.2

    “Assur-natsir-pal the exalted prince, the adorer of the great gods, the mighty monster, 7[Page 263] This refers to “a fabulous beast which was supposed to devour the corpses of the dead.” the conqueror of cities and mountains to their farthest bounds, the king of lords, the consumer of the violent, who is crowned with terror, who fears not opposition, the valiant one, the supreme judge who spares not, who overthrows resistance, the king of all princes, the lord of lords, the shepherd-prince, the king of kings, the exalted prophet. The conqueror of the foes of Assur, the powerful king, the king of Assyria, the son of Tiglath-Uras, the high priest of Assur, who upon all his foemen has laid the yoke, has set up the bodies of his adversaries upon stakes; the grandson of Rimmon-nirari the high priest of the great gods, who brought about the overthrow of those who would not obey him, and overcame the world; the great-grandson of Assur-dan, who founded fortresses and established shrines in those days from the mouth of Assur and the great gods, kingdom, sovereignty, and majesty issued forth.EB 263.3

    “I am king, I am sovereign, I am exalted, I am strong, I am glorious, I am lusty, I am the first-born, I am the champion, I am the warrior, I am a lion, I am a hero, Assur-natsir-pal, the powerful king, the king of Assyria, named of the Moon-god, the favorite of Anu, the beloved of Rimmon, mightiest among the gods am I. A weapon that spares not, which brings slaughter to the land of his enemies am I. A king valiant in battle, the destroyer of cities and mountains, the leader of the conflict, the king of the four regions of the world, who lays the yoke upon his foes, who enslaves all his enemies, the king of all the zones of all princes, every one of them, the king who subjugates the unsubmissive to him, who was overcome all the multitudes of men.”EB 263.4

    15. He extended his power to the westward, beyond the River Orontes, and the “city of Aribua, the stronghold of Lubrana,” he took for himself, made it a store city, and settled within it “colonists from Assyria.” He then proceeded up the Orontes, over the slopes of Lebanon, and “to the great sea of Phoenicia.” He says, “At the great sea I hung up my weapons. I offered sacrifices to the gods. The tribute of the kings of the coasts of the sea, of the Tyrians, the Sidonians, the Gebalites, the Makhallatians, the Maizians, the Kaizians, the Phoenicians, and of the citizens of Arvad in the middle of the sea,—silver, gold, lead, copper, plates of copper, variegated cloths, linen vestments, great maces and small maces, usu wood, seats of ivory, and a propoise the offspring of the sea, as their tribute I received.”EB 264.1

    16. From Phenicia he traveled up the coast of the sea to the mountains of Amanus, bordering on the Gulf of Antioch north of where the Orontes empties into the sea. There he says, “Logs of cedar, sherbin, juniper and cypress I cut. I offered sacrifices to my gods. I erected a memorial of my warlike deeds. Upon it I wrote. The logs of cedar were transported from the mountain of Amanus, as materials for my temple have I stored them. To the country of fir-trees I went. The country of fir-trees throughout its whole extent I conquered. Logs of fir I cut. To the city of Nineveh I brought them.”EB 264.2

    17. His seventh campaign was begun on the banks of the Khabour; and extended over both sides of the Euphrates below the mouth of that river in the country of the Shuhites. The king of the Shuhites “to the far-spread soldiers of the country of the Kassi 8[Page 264] This country of the Kassi was a part of Babylonia that had been settled by the Kasseans from the mountains of Elam. he trusted, and to make war and battle against me he came.” In this contest with the Shuhites, in the siege of their capital city, he met also troops of Nebo-Baladan, king of Babylon, that had been sent to assist the Shuhites; for he says that he captured fifty riding horses and their grooms, and Zabdanu, the brother of Nebo-Baladan, “together with 3000 of their soldiers, and Bel-bal-iddin, the prophet, who went before their hosts.” The spoil which was carried away from this city was “silver, gold, lead, plates, precious mountain-stone for the adornment of his palace, chariots, horses trained to his yoke, the trappings of the soldiers, the trappings of the horses, the amazons of his palaces.”EB 264.3

    18. Upon this victory he says: “The fear of my sovereignty prevailed as far as the country of Kar-Dunias.” Nebo-Baladan, the king of Babylon, made peace with him, and so delivered his country from the terrors of one off his invasions. However, he followed down the Euphrates clear to the tribes of the Chaldeans, who dwelt in the marshes at the head of the Persian Gulf, for he says: “The descent of my weapons overwhelmed the country of Khaldu. On the countries beside the Euphrates, I outpoured terror.”EB 265.1

    19. His last recorded campaign was in the lands of Kummukh and Qurkhi, “opposite to the land of the Hittites,” round about the sources of the Tigris, on both sides of the river. Although he had been through this country twice before, yet he had the greater part of it to subdue again, and he did it in his own energetic way.EB 265.2

    20. He returned to the city of Calah, of which he tells us that “the former city of Calah which Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, a prince who went before me, built, this city had fallen into decay and had become a mound and a ruin. To restore this city anew I worked. The men whom I had captured, from the countries I had conquered, from the land of the Shuhites, from the land of Laqe throughout its circuit, from the city of ‘Sirqi at the ford of the Euphrates and the country of Zamua to its farthest limits, from Bit-Adini and the land of the Hittites, and from Liburna the Patinian, I took and planted within it. A canal from the Lower Zab I excavated and the River Pati-khigal [bringer of fertility] I called its name. I established plantations in its neighborhood. I brought fruit and wine for Assur my lord, and the temples of my country. I changed the old mount. I dug deep as far as the level of the water. I sunk the foundations 120 tikpi [“courses”] to the bottom. I built up its wall. I built it up and completed it from its foundation to its coping-stone.”EB 265.3

    21. Assur-natsir-pal closes his record with a long, bombastic tribute to himself, from which we may extract the limits of his empire. As described by himself, they are as follows:—EB 266.1

    “Assur-natsir-pal the great king, the powerful king, the king of Assyria; the son of Tiglath-Uras, the great king, the powerful king, the king of multitudes, the king of Assyria; the son of Rimmon-nirari the great king, the powerful king, the king of multitudes, the king of the same Assyria; ... who has established empire over all the world.... The king, who from the fords of the River Tigris to the mountains of Lebanon and the great sea, the land of Laqe [on the Euphrates, north of the Balikh] throughout its circuit, the land of the Shuhites 9[Page 266] This is the place from which came one of Job’s friends, “Bildad the Shuhite.” It lay on the western bank of the Euphrates, below the mouth of the River Khabour. as far as the city of Rapiqi [on the northwestern frontier of Babylonia] has subdued beneath his feet. From the head of the sources of the River ‘Supnat [that flows into the Tigris north of Diarbekr] to the lowlands of Bitani [south of Lake Van] his hand has conquered. From the lowlands of Kirruri [in Kurdistan] to the country of Gozan [between the northern bank of the Tigris and Lake Van]; from the fords of the Lower Zab of the city of Tel-Bari which is above the Zab; as far as the city of the Mound of Zabdani and the city of the Mound of Aptani, the city of Khirimu, the city of Kharutu, the country of Birate [or the fortresses] belonging to Babylonia, I have restored to the frontiers of my country. From the lowlands of the city of Babite [eastern Kurdistan] to the country of Khasmar, I have accounted the inhabitants as men of my own country. In the lands which I have conquered I have appointed my governors. They have done homage. Boundaries I have set for them.... Kings valiant and unsparing from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun, have I subdued beneath my feet. One speech have I made them utter.”EB 266.2

    22. When it is remembered that these two kings of Assyria had spread their ravages through all the countries that they could reach; and when it is also understood that Assur-natsir-pal reigned at the same time as did Ahab; it is perfectly easy, from this brief account, to understand how the kings of Israel, bad as they were, could have the reputation among the nations, of being “merciful kings.”EB 266.3

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