« السابقةمتابعة »
ruin that awaited it, the word of God, (before whom alı the inhabitants of the earth are as grasshoppers), by Nahum, was 'Make thyself many as the canker-worm, make thyself many as the locusts. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the cankerworm spoileth and fleeth away. Thy crowned are as the locusts, and thy captains as the great grasshoppers which camp in the hedges in the cold day; but when the sun riseth, they flee away; and their place is not known where they are,' or were. Whether these words imply that even the site of Nineveh would in future ages be uncertain or unknown, or as they rather seem to intimate, that every vestige of the palaces of its monarchs, of the greatness of its nobles, and of the wealth of its numerous merchants, would wholly disappear; the truth of the prediction cannot be invalidated under either interpretation. The avowed ignorance respecting Nineveh, and the oblivion which passed over it, for many an age, conjoined with the meagreness of evidence to identify it still, prove that the place was long unknown where it stood, and that even now it can scarcely with certainty be determined. And, if the only spot that bears its name, or that can be said to be the place where it was, be indeed the site of one of the most extensive of cities on which the sun ever shone, and which continued for many centuries to be the capital of Assyria,—the 'principal mounds,' few in number, in many places overgrown with grass, 'resemble the mounds left by intrenchments and fortifications of ancient Roman camps,' and the appearances of other mounds and ruins, less marked than even these, extending for ten miles, and widely spread, and seeming to be 'the wreck of former buildings,' show that Nineveh is left without one monument of royalty, without any token or memorial of its ancient splendour and magnificence; and so entirely are the very vestiges of the city in many places swept away, that of a large space which the plough has passed
over for ages, it is said, 'what part was covered by ancient Nineveh it is nearly now impossible to ascertain.' 'The country,' 'this uneven country,' are epithets descriptive of its supposed site. 'In such a country it is not easy to say what are ruins and what are not; what is art converted by the lapse of ages into a semblance of nature, and what is merely nature broken by the hand of time into ruins approaching in their appearance those of art.' Of the merchants, that were multiplied above the stars of heaven-of the crowned and of the captains of the great Nineveh, it may be said, that they were as the great grasshoppers, which, camping in the hedges in a cold day, flee away on the rising of the sun, and their place is not known where they were. Neither from the low grounds, covered with bushes of tamarisk, where it is not cultivated, nor from the high country completely covered with pebbles, could it be known where the nobles of Nineveh were." Thus comprehensive is the testimony of Volney, an avowed infidel, to the like effect:-"The name of Nineveh, seems to be threatened with the same oblivion which has overtaken its greatness."
The pious author of the Evidences of Prophecy, taking his ideas of the disclosures of recent investigations amid the ruins of Assyria, from the first impressions formed on the arrival of the fruits of M. Botta's explorations, at their Parisian destination, concludes that in these exhumed sculptures and inscriptions, we look once more upon the palaces of Nineveh, of which the prophet exclaims, "their place is not known where they are." This however, we have already shown, has been proved by more recent investigations to be an erroneous conclusion. The palaces of Nineveh still lie beneath their heaps, though it is not improbable that from these also may soon be drawn forth evidences of the glory, and the terrible fall of that mighty city, which once experienced so singularly the long-suffering mercy of God.
Leaving, however, for the present the sacred records of the Assyrian metropolis, we return to the valuable chronological system which has already been deduced from Dr. Layard's and Major Rawlinson's recent investigations.
In the valuable communications which the latter laid before successive meetings of the Royal Asiatic Society, he showed from Herodotus, and other authorities, the probability of the Assyrian monarchy dating from the commencement of the thirteenth century before the Christian era; and he proposed, accordingly, to place the six kings recorded at Nimrud from about B.C. 1250 to about B.C. 1100. The wars described upon the beautiful inscribed obelisk, now in the British Museum, during which the Assyrian arms certainly penetrated to the confines of Egypt, thus fall in with the latter part of the 20th dynasty, when Egypt was suffering under great depression. A vast number of geopraphical coincidences seem to corroborate this chronology. An interval of perhaps seventy years appears to have occurred between the grandson of the king, whose deeds are recorded on the obelisk, and the builder of Khorsabad; the reign of the latter is thus placed in about B.C. 1030, at a period when Pe-hur, the fifth king of the 21st dynasty, was reigning in Egypt. The Koyunjik king is believed by Major Rawlinson to be contemporary with Solomon; and his son, Asser-adon-asser, with Reheboam and Sheshonk of Egypt; while he supposes we have yet to identify the monuments of the Assyrian kings, who contracted alliances with the 22nd dynasty of Egypt, as well as those familiar to us from Scripture history.
We thus see that the fields of study and of discovery are both alike only opening upon us, and neither the historian, nor the interpreter of prophecy must be in too great haste to rush to conclusions, which future disclosures may very speedily compel him to abandon. It
need not surprise us if we find the Jews occupying as little share of the Assyrian, as of the Egyptian records. It was no part of the scheme of providence, that his chosen people should rival in splendour, or extent of conquests, the Gentile nations around them. Under Solomon alone did the Hebrew nation rise to a position of worldly power and grandeur, which enabled it to deal on equal terms with Tyre and Egypt. But that glory was short-lived, and proved only a prelude to dismemberment and intestine war. Major Rawlinson conceives that the Jews were always classed by the Assyrians with the Khetta, or Hittites, who were the dominant race in Pales. tine. He showed in the course of his communications to the Asiatic Society, the probability of Jerusalem being mentioned as a city of the Khetta; and stated that it was even possible the children of Israel might be represented in the earlier inscriptions by the "twelve tribes of the upper and lower country," who were always associated with the Hivites in the notices of the wars of Assyria against Hamath and Atesh. Here, therefore we have a most valuable field of investigation for the students of Assyrian antiquities, in relation to their bearing on the elucidation of Scripture history.
Amongst numerous subjects of great interest, to which the same ingenious Asiatic scholar referred, he particularly drew attention to the various notices of Misr, or Egypt, translating the passages which referred to that country verbatim, and explaining that the city Rá-bek, which was always spoken of as the chief place in the country, was the Biblical On, the Greek Heliopolis, the name being formed of Rá, the sun, and bek, (Coptic baki) a city, in the same manner as Baal-bek, or the city of the sun; and here it may be noted that it is questionable, if Bel or Baal, should so much be regarded as the name of a special object of idolatrous worship, as an epithet for gods in general, of the male sex. That this is no new
idea, is shown by the passage already introduced, at the head of a former chapter, from the Paradise Lost :
"With these came they, who from the bordering flood
Of old Euphrates, to the brook that parts
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baalim, and Ashtaroth; those male,
It is manifestly as a term generally applying to idolatry that the prophet Hosea speaks of, Israel's services to Baal, and the days of Baalim. This opinion has been recently revived with much ability, by Mr. Ackerman, a distinguished English archaeologist. It is possible, however, that the term should rather be understood as synonymous with the Latin Jupiter, or chief of the gods, which came, in a certain sense to be very generally applied, as Jove still is occasionally in a frivolous or profane sense, as an abstract term for the Deity. On this subject Dr. Layard remarks, in reference to a curious symbol of the Deity of frequent occurrence on the Assyrian sculptures: "This well-known symbol constantly occurs on the walls of Persepolis, and on Persian monuments of the Achæmenian dynasty, as that of the supreme divinity. It is also seen in the bas-reliefs of Pterium, and furnishes additional evidence in support of the Assyrian or Persian origin of those rock-sculptures, and of the Assyrian influence on Asia Minor.
"We may conclude from the prominent position always given to this figure in the Nimroud sculptures, and from its occurrence on Persian monuments as the representation of Ormuzd, that it was also the type of the supreme deity amongst the Assyrians. It will require a more thorough knowledge of the contents of the inscriptions than we at present possess, to determine the name by which the divinity was known. It may be conjectured, however, that it was Baal, or some modification of a name which was that of the great god amongst nearly all na