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a breadth of full four fingers; the millet, and sesama yielding abundant oil, grow to a height incredible to Europeans, except eye-witnesses. All this wealth was doubly fatal to the inhabitants, for it blunted their energy, and invited the marauding aggressor; they fell unresistingly into Nimrod's hands, who here established the first strongholds of his great empire so firmly, that Babylon was henceforth called the “land of Nimrod.” But not yet was either his ambition satisfied, or his strength exhausted; he made from Babylon an expedition into the country which was, from the son of Shem, called Asshur; here he founded on the inviting banks of the Tigris, perhaps opposite the spot of the present Mosul, a town, Nineveh, destined to play a prominent part in the history of the ancient world, but in its commencement small and unimportant, and eclipsed in magnitude and celebrity by the great town Resen, which, however, fell gradually into such permanent insignificance, that its name was for millenniums forgotten, and the ruins of its once stately walls and magnificent palaces have, in our days only, come again to light. Now, what is the value and historical meaning of this account? It was a general conviction among the Israelites, that the tribes of Assyria were kindred with those of Aramea, from which Abraham, the ancestor of the Hebrew nation, had sprung; they were, therefore, necessarily included among the progeny of Shem. Nevertheless the language of the later Assyrians and Babylonians was strange and unintelligible to the Hebrews; it was to them a barbarian tongue, without sense or meaning, a stammering speech, discordant to their ears; further, the history of the Israelites teaches, that they had no more powerful or more deadly foes than the kings of Assyria and Babylon; they were in almost constant conflict with, and in perpetual dread of, those insatiable princes; they entertained, therefore, towards them feelings far from fraternal; they believed that this antipathy was explicable only on the supposition that the original inhabitants of the countries near the Euphrates and Tigris had, at an early period, been subdued or expelled by bold invaders from the south, descended from the hateful stem of the Hamites, who included all the national enemies of the Hebrews.
How far this supposition is justified either by the traditions of the Asiatics, or the statements of other ancient historians, or the testimony of the sculptural relics, must be left to future discussion; but it may at once be stated, that Babylon is indeed considerably older than Nineveh, for a dynasty of the former dates, at least, from B.C. 2200, whilst the kings of the latter do not reach higher than B.c. 1300; that Assyria, though long mistress of Babylonia, owed to the latter a great part of her culture; that the names of the very earliest kings of Babylon have the termination Khak, which is probably identical with the hak, or hyc of the Egyptian shepherds, who are of Arabic descent; and that there were Cushite tribes in Babylon termed “the Black,” in contradistinction to the red inhabitants, who were Shemites; that according to an old Babylonian legend, the powerful Oannes, came from the Erythræan sea on ships to the land of the Babylonians to teach them wisdom, and to fix their laws; that the worship of Bel, in Babylon, is traced to the adoration of Amum, in Meroe, and the Babylonian astrology to Egyptian teaching. So valuable are the ethnographic allusions which our list implies. But they must be understood in their own grand spirit; prejudice must not contract their scope, nor sophistry force their meaning; they were written in characters which will ever be a mystery to the mere philologist, and a dangerous ignis fatuus to the historian unimbued with the style and spirit of the Bible. Thus the whole import of this interesting passage has been perverted and contorted; the “ hero" Nimrod has been transformed not only into a giant, a tyrant, and a ravager, but into a rebel against the authority of God; into a proclaimer of wicked principles, teaching the docile people that they owe all their happiness to their own virtue and exertion, and not to the power or goodness of God; that the Divine rule was an intolerable tyranny, which had inflicted a general flood, but which they could for the future escape by gathering round one great centre, the tower of Babel; he was regarded as a hunter of men as well as of wild beasts; his very name has been believed to imply impious revolt; he has been identified with the fearful monster Orion, chained on the expanse of heaven with indestructible tetters, to warn and to terrify; he was among the later Arabic writers, the subject of incredible fables, which it is asserted are hinted at in our verses. And all this because Nimrod is here called a “hero," and a "mighty huntsman"! If the word hero has, in some passages, the invidious meaning of oppressor and despot, it does not follow that it has the same exceptional meaning everywhere; and if it is believed that the praise of a valiant and skilful hunter is in itself too insignificant to be mentioned, we have the analogy of many powerful kings who valued themselves eminently upon that manly accomplishment, who desired to outshine in it all their subjects, and who ordered it to be specially extolled on their epitaphs; even to the heroes and demi-gods of mythology, it was described as one of their essential distinctions; and on the most elaborate sculptures of the Assyrian palaces, the great king himself is frequently represented levelling his spear against the bull, or directing the arrow upon the infuriated lion; prowess in war, and intrepidity in the chase, were celebrated as merits almost equally honourable. Mere physical strength was, indeed, not very highly esteemed among the Hebrews; they respected power of mind, and especially piety of conduct; we have already compared the history of the Cainites with that of the Sethites, as manifesting the contrast between an external and internal life, between practical activity and religious elevation; we shall find a frequent repetition of this contrast, in Ishmael and Isaac, in Esau and Jacob, and strikingly in Goliath and David, who met his strong-limbed and unwieldy enemy with words pithily expressing that national difference. It was not deemed the characteristic of a religious mind to trust to bow and spear; nor was it regarded as a peculiar glory to be distinguished by feats of bodily strength: but more than this incidental and comparative opinion must not be sought in the remark regarding Nimrod's eminence in warfare and in the chase; he looked for worldly power, but he attained it by energy and boldness; if his aims were not the highest, his means were, at least, honest and brave; he was a heathen, ignorant of the true ends of life, but zealously pursuing those which he had proposed to himself; and his character, though devoid of nobler and spiritual aspirations, commanded and deserved respect. Nor are we compelled to suppose that he cunningly prepared himself for his meditated wars by apparently harmless chases; that he thus gathered round himself a number of valiant men, and then treacherously employed them for invasion and plunder. Who would find this idea in our verses, except those who are determined to explain them by the light of later fabulous traditions?
6. The origin of Babylon is, in the following chapter, described with a certain copiousness, since it is connected with events of the highest interest for the human family; the more appropriate place for that section would, therefore, have been before our list, which order is, indeed, observed by Josephus in his narrative; but it was considered preferable to enumerate the various tribes of the earth, before explaining the cause of their dispersion; and the remark, that there was but one language on the whole earth, would have been strange immediately after the account that eight persons, the members of the same family, formed the only inhabitants of the globe. Babylon was, in early periods, probably a place of no great importance; it was not the residence of the first Chaldean kings, who had their palaces in Mugeyr (Ur) and Wurka (Erech), or in Senkerch and Niffer; it was only about B.C. 1100, that Birs Nimroud (Borsippa, or Babylon) was adorned with the magnificent “ temple of the planets of the seven spheres;" and since that time it gradually increased, and assumed at last an extent which we should consider incredible in any other but an eastern capital. It stood, according to Herodotus, in a spacious plain, intersected by the Euphrates, was quadrangular, and had 480 stadia, or about 55 English iniles, in circumference, with a hundred brazen gates; it was surrounded by a deep trench filled with water; on the western side, perhaps, with artificial marshes; and by a wall of fifty royal cubits in breadth, two hundred in height, and so wide, that after buildings of one story each had been erected at the edges, fronting each other, they left a space sufficient to turn a chariot with four horses; the breadth of the wall was, therefore, double that of Nineveh. Edifices three and four stories high formed many regular streets, at the end of each of which was a little brazen gate, opened in the wall, and leading to the river. Within the great wall ran another narrower one, not much inferior to the former in strength. The principal edifices were the royal palace, and the temple of Jupiter Belus, a square building of two stadia on every side, with eight towers, piled one upon the other. Later writers add, that Semiramis built a bridge across the Euphrates, five stadia long; and a palace at each end of the bridge, with towers, embellished with animated paintings of hunting scenes; the western castle being especially magnificent. The area which ancient Babylon occupied, seems to have been not less than 225 square miles; so that when the extreme part of the town was taken by Cyrus, the inhabitants of the central portions were quite unaware of it, and continued the festive rejoicings in which they were indulging; this extent will appear in its due importance, if we consider that London and its environs cover only 114 square miles; but it will be regarded as less extraordinary, if it is remembered that Babylon contained within its walls extensive gardens and fields, the produce of which was said to have, in times of sieges, sufficed for the maintenance of the garri
Nebuchadnezzar, probably, built chiefly the eastern part of the town, and added a second citadel, or palace, whilst Nabonidus fortified the walls towards the river. In the later Biblical prophecies, the extent and pomp of the world-renowned city are described with a powerful emphasis; and profane writers speak with glowing colours of the banging gardens, as one of the most extraordinary achievements of antiquity. The Babylonians were, in the period of their prosperity, celebrated for their manufacture of costly stuffs and splendid carpets; but they occnpied also a great portion of the Asiatic commerce, carried on both by land and by water as far as India, importing as well as exporting, and especially entertaining a lively intercourse with the northern countries. Babylon remained in this grandeur and magnificence, which were, however, accompanied by an unbridled licentiousness, till it was, after a long and difficult siege, taken by Cyrus, who, however, far from destroying it, made it his residence during seven months of the year, and only pulled down a part of the walls, if he damaged them at all; but a revolt under Darius, the son of Hystaspes, induced this king to demolish the gates and the fortified walls; and Xerxes plundered, and, perhaps, destroyed the temple of Belus. Babylon was the chief city of the empire even in the time of Alexander, who attempted in vain to restore the temple of Belus, then a gigantic mass of ruins; but when Seleucus Nicator built Seleucia, and transferred to it the seat of government, Babylon gradually lost its ancient importance; it was neglected, and decreased in population; Demetrius Polior. cetes found there but two fortresses; Evemerus, king of Parthia, burnt many of its temples, and the best part of the houses (B.C. 127); in the time of Augustus, by far the larger part of the city was added to the fields; and Strabo describes it as a vast desert. Its ricinity became the stronghold of robbers and highwaymen; it was avoided both by natives and by strangers; in the time of Jerome its area was, perhaps, used by the kings of Persia as a park for hunting; but in the fifth century of the present era, the soil had become almost one large marsh, since the canals drawn from the Euphrates had been filled up; only some Jewish families, with the tenacity belonging to their race, occupied some wretched and scattered houses, whilst even the Euphrates had long changed its course; in the tenth century hardly any remains of the town were left; and in the twelfth, according to Benjamin of Tudela, huge ruins only of the temple of Nebuchadnezzar were visible; but the serpents and scorpions which had selected them for their retreat, rendered the attempt of approaching them an impossibility. Thus was the proud city, from the abode of the masters of the world, fallen into a den for beasts of prey and reptiles; into a confused quarry, which yielded stones for obscure villages, and for the repair of shattered huts. The most vehement predictions of the Hebrew prophets have been literally realized. For many centuries, these heaps of rocks and sand were regarded by the straying traveller with mingled horror and humiliation; but, at last the awakening spirit of historical investigation made them the object of persevering and intelligent enquiry; the veil which hid the ancient glories was lifted; the earth gave back the treasures which it had devoured; and Time, which had once destroyed, has now abundantly, though tardily restored. We have, in the larger edition of this work, added an appendix to the tenth chapter, embodying a brief sketch of the excavations and their results: we have tried to produce before the reader a summary of the labours of Rich and Botta, of Layard and Rawlinson, and of those energetic explorers who were besides them occupied on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris. The names of these men will ever be illustrious in the history of antiquarian learning; for they will be associated with empires the astonishment and the terror of the ancient world.
7. Besides Babel, several other towns or provinces were subdued by Nimrod; they were, therefore, considered as the seats of an early civilisation or commerce, and worthy of being mentioned in connection with Babel. The first of these towns is Erech. There is at present no doubt, that it is identical with Orchoe of Ptolemy, within the marshes formed by the canals of the Euphrates, in the direction of Arabia Deserta; and that it corresponds with the little place Wurka. It is situated 82 miles south, and 43 miles east from Babylon, on the Euphrates; its yicinity is covered with a vast mound, called El Assagah (the place of pebbles), or Irka and Irak, clearly echoing the old name Erech. It seems to have been a holy city, consecrated to the Moon; for, many of the bricks that have been examined bear a monogram of that deity. It was, further, undoubtedly a burial-town or necropolis; for an almost unlimited number of tombs and coffins has here been found, whilst they have never been met with in any part of Assyria. “Here, probably, are to be sought the ruins of the tombs of the old Assyrian kings, which were an object of curiosity to Alexander, and which are laid down in that exact locality in the old monkish map, usually called Peutingerian tables." The names of the Greek kings, Seleucus and Antiochus, occurring in cuneiform characters, on tablets found in Wurka, prove that it existed to a late period when many of the larger towns had long disappeared. The inhabitants of Orchoe were, most likely, those Orcheni, whom Strabo describes as an astronomical sect of Chaldeans, near Babylon; and Pliny as agriculturists who banked up the waters of the Euphrates, and compelled them to flow into the Tigris; but whom Ptolemy designates an Arabian people near the Persian Gulf. In this double statement, we may find a trace of the Cushite origin of the inhabitants of Erech, whilst the astronomical skill which is attributed to them may countenance the opinion regarding its sacred connection with the moon. The Orcheni were, at a very early period, governed by kings of the Chaldean race.
8. Accad, about the site of which even modern writers believed it impossible to give any decisive opinion, is, by recent researches, indisputably identified; and the various readings of Archad and Accur, which are given by Greek and Syriac translators, and which have misled former expositors into vague conjectures, are, by the same discoveries, sufficiently accounted for. About 58 miles north, and 13 miles east of Babel, is a large mound, about 400 feet in circumference, and rising to the height of 125 feet; on it stands a tower, or an irregular pyramid, almost entirely decayed, and constantly increasing the crumbling rubbish of the basis on which it rises. This mound
is still called, by the Arabs and Turks, “the Hill of Nimrod” (Tel Nimroud, and Nimroud Tepassé); and here, near Baghdad, is a little place, now called Akker-Kuf, Akari Nimroud, or Akari Babel; — the scanty vestiges of a town once undoubtedly great and powerful, and, perhaps, strongly fortified.
9. Calneh is a town of the ancient province Chalonitis, probably Ctesiphon, on the Tigris, opposite Seleucia, about eighteen miles below the present Baghdad. The town itself may formerly have borne the same name, Calneh, which was only later changed by the Parthian king Pacorus, when it was much enlarged, became a royal residence, and one of the most important towns. The prophet Amos already mentions it as a powerful citadel. In the time of Tacitus it was still a noble city; the emperor Severus carried off from thence 100,000 captives; and Odenathus was unable to destroy its walls. Later, the two royal towns (Ctesiphon and Seleucia) were comprised under one name, Al Madain; and at present, the ruins of Taki Kesra, with the Arch of Chosroes, perhaps belonging to the once famous White Temple of the Persian kings, are alone left to indicate their former site.
The four towns, Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, are said to have been situated in the land of Shinar. If the position of these towns is, in the preceding remarks, correctly assumed, it is evident that Shinar corresponds with Babylonia itself; it is, not only in our passage, but in Isaiah, distinguished from Assyria; it is, further, different from Mesopotamia; but yet, it had its defined boundaries, and was governed by kings; it is not only in the Old Testament clearly used for Babylon, but the Septuagint renders it so in several passages; ancient writers identify both names; and even later Syriac historians call the region round Baghdad the land of Shinar, and explain it by Babel. Shinar is, therefore, the southern district of Mesopotamia, from the Persian Gulf to the so-called Median Wall, which separated it from Mesopotamia Proper, and which ran from the Tigris, a little north of Sittace, across the plain to the Euphrates; in the west and south-west, however, Shinar extended beyond the Euphrates to the tracts of Arabia. These are, therefore, the original boundaries of Babylonia, or Shinar, or the land of the Chaldees. It is natural that, later, when Babylon became the mistress of Asia, that name should have comprised by far more extensive territories.
From Shinar, Nimrod continued his expedition into Asshur, and built here Nineveh, and several other great and important cities. — The original extent of Assyria or Aturia, was very limited; it consisted merely of a long and narrow tract between the Tigris and the chain of Mount Zagrus in the east, and reaching northward to the boundaries of Armenia, or to Mount Niphates; and it coincided, therefore, as nearly as possible, with the present Pashalik of Mosul. It is well known that later writers attributed to it an almost unlimited territory; they identified it with Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Chaldea; they included in it Tyre and the Lebanon, Syria, and sometimes even the tribes of the Pontus Euxinus; whilst the Greeks, with a remarkable confusion, called the Assyrians and Babylonians together, not unfrequently, Syrians. The cities which are mentioned in our verses, besides Nineveh, show that Asshur denotes here, as in ii. 14, a land much more comprehensive than its primitive extent; but though it includes undoubtedly northern, it certainly does not embrace southern Mesopotamia, which was expressed by “the land of Shinar."
10. Nineveh was, among the ancient nations, famed for its greatness and magnificence; it was considered larger than Babylon, and was, in fact, the largest town of antiquity. The prophet Jonah describes it as a city of three days' journey, with 120,000 children, or“ individuals that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand;" and it must therefore have had a population of at least 600,000 inhabitants; but after its destruction, the imagination of ancient authors was busy in exaggerating its magnitude, till it was endowed with almost fabulous splendour. But its growth was very gradual; in our passage it appears as inferior to Resen; the oldest palace,