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    September 3, 1885

    “The Medo-Persian Empire” The Signs of the Times 11, 34, pp. 532, 533.

    THE passing away of the Babylonian Empire was shown to King Nebuchadnezzar in the interpretation of his vision of the great image. Daniel declared to him:—SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.1

    “And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee.” Daniel 2:39.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.2

    We know whence this other kingdom should arise; we know what nations should come against Babylon; we know who would lead the armies; and we know how the city should be taken; for God mustered the forces, and directed the siege, and his plans were all revealed to his prophets from sixty to one hundred and seventy-five years before the city and the kingdom of Babylon fell. The way is all clear before us in this—the prophecy is plain, so also is the history.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.3

    Of the nations that should overthrow the kingdom of Babylon, we read:—SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.4

    “Make bright the arrows; gather the shields; the Lord hath raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes; for his device is against Babylon, to destroy it; because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance of his temple.” “Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion.” Jeremiah 51:11, 28.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.5

    But the Medes were not to be alone. Isaiah cries, “Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media.” Isaiah 21:2. “And Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen.” Isaiah 22:6.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.6

    Elam, the Susiana of ancient geography and history, was a province of the Babylonian Empire as late as the third year of Belshazzar (Daniel 8:1, 2); but on the rise of the Persian power, it threw off the yoke of Babylon, joined itself to Persia, became the chief province of the Persian Kingdom, and its capital, Susa (the Shushan of Scripture), became finally the capital of the whole Medo-Persian Empire. See “Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible,” “McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopedia,” “Young’s Analytical Concordance,” etc.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.7

    The sequel of the revolt of Elam and of its mention in this prophecy lies in this, that Cyrus was of Elamite origin, and the recognized chief of the Susianans (Sayce, “Ancient Empire,” chap. 2, par. 46); and when he became king of Persia and began to spread his conquests, the Susianians (Elamites) only waited for the opportune moment, to revolt from Babylon and join the standard of Cyrus. But this time never came till Cyrus started to the conquest of Babylon in B.C. 539; because Cyrus and his forces, for nearly twenty years, until this time, were away to the northwest, the north, and the east, far away from the borders of Elam. (Rawlinson, Fifth Monarchy, chap. 7, par. 9, 15, 21, 25.) But when he started from Ecbatana (Fourth Mon., chap. 8, par. 47, 57, note 232), his Median capital, to the conquest of Babylon, he had to cross the province of Elam; then came the time when they could join their chosen chief, then Elam could “go up,” Media could “besiege,” and Cyrus, of Persia, could lead the forces.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.8

    God had not only long beforehand named the nations that should destroy Babylon, he had also called by name the general that should lead them:—SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.9

    “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” Isaiah 45:1-4.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.10

    The analysis of this scripture will give us the fall of Babylon better than any other way that we could get at it.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.11

    1. “I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.” This was written about B.C. 712. Cyrus started against Babylon B.C. 539, and took it B.C. 538, when he was about sixty-one years old. (“Seven Great Monarchies,” Fourth Mon., chap. 8, par. 47, 49; Fifth Mon. chap. 8, par. 25, 26.) Thus we see that the Lord called him “by name” 113 years before he was born, and told what he should do, 174 years before he did it.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.12

    2. “To open before him the two-leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.” “I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” That this may be properly understood we shall have to give a brief description of the city of Babylon. And as an introduction we will give an extract from Nebuchadnezzar, and one from Herodotus.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.13

    Of the building of the walls and fortresses of the city, and the length of the wall, Nebuchadnezzar himself wrote an inscription as follows:—SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.14

    “Imgur-bel and Nivit-bel, the great walls of Babylon, I built them square.... I repaired, with bitumen and bricks, the sides of the ditches that had been dug. I caused to be put in order the double doors of bronze, and the railings and the gratings, in the great gateways. I enlarged the streets of Babylon so as to make them wonderful. I applied myself to the protection of Babylon and Vale Saggatu (the pyramid), and on the most elevated lands, close to the great gate of Ishtar, I constructed strong fortresses of bitumen and bricks, from the banks of the Euphrates down to the great gate, the whole extent of the streets. I established their foundations below the level of the waters. I fortified these walls with art. I caused Imgur-bel, the great all of Babylon, the impregnable, such as no kind before me had made, to be measured, 4,000 mahargagar.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.15

    “This measurement,” says Lenormant, “corresponds exactly with the 480 stades [sixty miles] given by Herodotus as the circuit.—Ancient History of the East, book 5, chap. 5, sec. 3, par. 16.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.16

    “‘The city stands on a broad plain,’ says Herodotus, who visited it in the fifth century before the Christian era, ‘and is an exact square, 120 furlongs in length each way, so that the entire circuit is 480 furlongs. While such is its size, in magnificence there is no other city that approaches to it. It is surrounded, in the first place, by a broad and deep moat, full of water, behind which rises a wall 50 royal cubits in width, and 200 in height. The royal cubit is longer by three fingers’ breadth than the common cubit.”—Ancient History of the East, book 4, chap. 5, sec. 3, par. 7.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.17

    The city, as stated above, lay in the form of a square, 15 miles on each side, making 60 miles around it. It was surrounded by a wall 350 feet high and about 85 feet thick at the top. On the top of the wall at irregular intervals were built towers to guard the most accessible parts. Of these towers there were 250. The open space on the wall, within the line of these towers, was of sufficient breadth to allow a four-horse chariot to turn with safety. Twenty-five gates pierced the wall on each side, making 100 gates in all in the outer wall. These were double gates of solid brass, with brazen lintels and posts, and fastened with bars of iron. Around the wall on the outside ran a moat, that had been formed by taking from it the earth with which the bricks were made to build the wall. Under the wall and diagonally through the city, from corner to corner so as to obtain the greatest length of water, ran the River Euphrates. On each side of the river, inside of the city, was built a strong wall, each wall being pierced with twenty-five gates opening into the streets that ran from the outer gates. These were also brazen gates like those in the outer wall. The banks of the river were lined throughout with brick laid in bitumen, with sloping landing-places at the gates. Boats were always ready at these landing-places by which to pass from side to side of the river. Over the river about the middle of the city was a drawbridge thirty feet wide supported on stone piers. At the two ends of the bridge were the two grand palaces of the city. Of course this vast area within the city was not built up solidly with houses as is a modern city. These were gardens, orchards, and fields interspersed among the houses, and about the palaces and temples. It was expected that if ever the city should be besieged, they could grow sufficient provisions within the walls to support the population, so that they might shut their gates, man the towers, and dwell securely with no fears of ever being overcome by any besieging force. Such, briefly outlined, was the Babylon against which Cyrus went to lay siege.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.18

    In describing the fall of Babylon, we shall give bodily the historical view as drawn by Rawlinson from Herodotus, Zenophon, Polyhistor, Berosus, Abydenus, and the inscriptions; and as we go along insert in the record, within brackets, the prophecies that are therein fulfilled, and also the state of affairs in the city that night, as described by Daniel. This we think the best, because in this way we can present the two views almost in the form of a parallel. We would simply remark that Nabonadius was king of Babylon, and quote the history.SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.19

    “When at last it was rumored that the Persian king had quitted Ecbatana (B.C. 539) and commenced his march to the southwest, Nabonadius received the tidings with indifference. His defenses were completed; his city was amply provisioned; if the enemy should defeat him in the open field, he might retire behind his walls, and laugh to scorn all attempts to reduce his capital either by blockade or storm.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.20

    “If we may truth Herodotus, the invader having made all his preparations and commenced his march, came to a sudden pause midway between Ecbatana and Babylon. One of the sacred white horses, which drew the chariot of Ormazd, had been drowned in crossing a river; and Cyrus had thereupon desisted from his march, and, declaiming that he would revenge himself on the insolent stream, had set his soldiers to disperse its waters into 360 channels. [Cyrus swore that he would so break the strength of the river, that, in the future, women should pass it without wetting their knees.—See Grote’s “Greece,” chap. 33, par. 3.—A.T.J.] This work employed him during the whole summer and autumn; nor was it till another spring had come that he resumed his expedition. To the Babylonians such a pause must have appeared like irresolution. They must have suspected that the invader had change his mind and would not venture across the Tigris. If the particulars of the story reached them, they probably laughed at the monarch who vented his rage on inanimate nature, while he let his enemies go scot free.” “Cyrus, however, had a motive for his proceedings, which will appear in the sequel.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.21

    [But whatever motive Cyrus may have had in stopping here from one spring to another, there was yet a higher motive in, and over, it all. God’s people were in Babylon and they must know when its fall would be, that they might save themselves. Sixty years before He had said: “My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord.” And then, too, he gave them the sign by which they should know when her destruction was at hand. He said: “And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumor that shall be heard in the land; a rumor shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumor, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.” Jeremiah 51:45, 46 Thus when Cyrus stared out, Babylon heard the “rumor” and made all ready, but Cyrus stopped and stayed all summer, through the fall, and all winter, then when spring came again, again he started, and again a “rumor” was heard in Babylon, followed swiftly by “violence” and “ruler against ruler.” And that is why he stayed there at the river so long. God was over it all. He had said that two rumors, a year apart, should reach Babylon, then his people should go out of the midst of her, and deliver “every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord.”]SITI September 3, 1885, page 532.22

    “Having wintered on the banks of the Gyndes in a mild climate, where tents would have been quite a sufficient protection for his army, he put his troops in motion at the commencement of spring, crossed the Tigris apparently unopposed, and soon came in sight of the capital. Here he found the Babylonian army drawn out to meet him under the command of Nabonadius himself, who had resolved to try the chance of battle. An engagement ensued, of which we possess no details; our informants simply tell us that the Babylonian monarch was completely defeated, and that, while most of his army sought safety within the walls of the capital, he himself with a small body of troops threw himself into Borsippa, an important town lying at a short distance from Babylon toward the southwest.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 533.1

    “It might have been supposed that his absence would have produced anarchy and confusion in the capital, but a step which he had recently taken with the object of giving stability to his throne, rendered the preservation of order tolerably easy. At the earliest possible moment had had associated with him in the government, his son, Belshazzar, or Bel-shar-uzur,—probably when he was about fourteen—the grandson of the great Nebuchadnezzar. [See Jeremiah 27:6, 7; Daniel 5:2, 11, 13, margin before notice.] This step, taken most likely with a view to none but internal dangers, was not found exceedingly convenient for the purposes of the war. In his father’s absence Belshazzar took the direction of affairs within the city, and met and foiled for a considerable time all the assaults of the Persians. He was young and inexperienced, but he had the counsels of the queen-mother [Daniel 5:10-12] to guide and support him, as well as those of the various lords and officers of the court. So well did he manage the defense that after a while Cyrus despaired, and as a last resource ventured on a stratagem in which it was clear that he must either succeed or perish.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 533.2

    A. T. J.

    (To be concluded next week.)

    “Notes on the International Lesson. 2 Kings 4:18-37. The Shunammite’s Son” The Signs of the Times 11, 34, pp. 534, 535.
    SEPT. 13. 2 Kings 4:18-37

    AS soon as Elijah had been taken away from him, Elisha took up the mantle that had fallen from the translated prophet, and went back and stood by Jordan, and, as Elijah had done as they two went over, he smote the water with the mantle, and the waters separated, and Elisha passed over. He then came back to Jericho, and the men of the city called his attention to its pleasant situation, but the water was bitter and the ground barren. Elisha took salt and cast it into the spring, and said, “Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha.” 2 Kings 2:9-22.SITI September 3, 1885, page 534.1

    SHORTLY afterward, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel, and the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom, went against him, and came out into the wilderness where there was no water; and according to the word of Elisha, “there came water by the way of Edom, and the country was filled with water,” and this with “neither wind nor rain.” Next there came to him a woman whose husband had died in debt, and the creditor had come to take her two sons for bondmen to pay the debt, and all they had was a single pot of oil. Elisha told her to go and borrow empty vessels from all her neighbors, and then pour into these from her one pot of oil till they were all full, then go and sell the oil, pay the debt, and she and her sons live of the rest.SITI September 3, 1885, page 534.2

    THEN the next account of him is that given in our lesson. “It fell on a day that Elisha passed to Shunem.” Shunem was a city of the tribe of Issachar (Joshua 19:18), about five miles south of Mount Tabor, about three miles from Jezreel, and in full view of the point on Mount Carmel where Elijah stood when the great decision was made between the Lord and Baal. It was at Shunem where the Philistines had pitched, when Saul saw them from Mount Gilboa, and his heart failed him, and he went and had a spiritualist medium at Endor hold a seance for him. 1 Samuel 28:4.SITI September 3, 1885, page 534.3

    AT Shunem Elisha found “a great woman,” a good woman too, as events proved; “and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick; and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 534.4

    AND this kindness to Elisha was not forgotten by him, nor by the Lord. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:10. “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Matthew 10:41, 42. The Lord wants people to use hospitality. It is one of the qualifications demanded in one who shall be chosen to be elder of the church. 1 Timothy 3:2.SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.1

    THE Lord wants it to be genuine hospitality too. He says, “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” 1 Peter 4:9. When we see people coming to our house, we say, “I should like to know what they are coming here for. I just wish they would stay away;” and then, when they reach the house, say, “How do you do? I am so glad to see you! Sit right down. Why I haven’t see [sic.] you so long. Oh! you must stay to dinner. I can’t think of your going before dinner,” &c., &c. Then we rustle around and get a big dinner, and have a grand time gossiping about everybody in the neighborhood, and finally the visitors go away, and then we say, “There, I am glad they are gone, and now I hope they will stay away,” &c., &c. And we call that hospitality! But it is no such thing. Hospitality, to be real hospitality, must be “without grudging,” must be from the heart, before people come, while they are with us, and after they are gone. Nor is it forgetful to entertain strangers.SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.2

    THIS Shunammite was genuinely hospitable. She thought, and planned, and executed, to make her guest comfortable, and specially because he was a “man of God.” And she was richly rewarded for it. First, by being blessed with that boon that was, as the whole history of the nation shows, the highest aspiration of every wife among the children of Israel—the boon of embracing a son in hope of the coming Messiah. And second, the wonderful blessing of having him restored to her even from the dead. Thus the Lord, in his loving-kindness, remembered and blessed the acts of kindness that had been shown to his servant.SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.3

    BUT the Lord’s mercy and goodness is not limited to our acts. Once David sat in his house thinking. Presently he spoke, and said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains.” That same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan to go and tell David that “The Lord telleth thee that he will make thee and house.... And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established forever before thee; thy throne shall be established forever.” 2 Samuel 7. David was not allowed to build an house for the Lord. But because he thought of it, because his mind had a care for the work and worship of God, God took note of the thought and blessed it with a reward that embraces eternity. Oh that there were more men like David! Oh that there were more women like this Shunammite, to take thought and care for the work, the worship, and the service of God! What blessings would be upon such! What grace would be to the children of men! “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.4

    “AND when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.” It is supposed that the child’s disease was sunstroke, followed by brain fever.SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.5

    “And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor Sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.” The new moon, the beginning of the month, was a solemn feast, day (Psalm 81:3), and the Sabbath was the day of weekly convocation. It would be natural for her to wish to go to the man of God on these days, but as it was neither, her husband is surprised, and yet she has such faith that the child shall be restored, that she will not allow her husband to suffer the grief of knowing that his only child is dead. And when Elisha asks her if it is well with herself, with her husband, and with her child, her answer is, “It is well.” Thus may say everyone who believes in God. Has death taken away your child? God has said, “Thy children shall come again to their own border.” “They shall come again from the land of the enemy.” Jeremiah 31:16, 17. Death is the enemy, and God has promised to destroy it, and bring back those who are held in its strong grasp. There is One who has all power in Heaven and in earth. He lives, and was dead; and is alive forevermore, and has the keys of hell (the grave) and of death. Revelation 1:18. And trusting in Him, even though the child be dead, we can truly say, “It is well.” For when He shall call, the child shall live, never to die any more.SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.6

    “THEN she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee.” It seems strange that people would use an animal for riding that has to be followed by a person on foot to whip it up all the time. But in the East, to this day, the people do just that thing. A late traveler thus tells of the donkey boys in Damascus: “These persecutors run after the animals, shouting and goading them for hours together; they keep the donkey in a gallop always, yet never get tired themselves nor fall behind.”SITI September 3, 1885, page 535.7

    A. T. J.

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