THE SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF PROPHETIC CHRONOLOGY.
"SURE AS THE STARS."
THE uncertainty which attaches to remote periods of secular chronology disappears at the date of the accession of Nabonassar, with whose reign the times of the four Gentile empires commence. From this time forward we are able to verify the chronological records of the past; and the dates of ancient history are confirmed by astronomic observations.
The astronomical records of the ancients, by whose means we are able to fix with certainty the chronology of the earlier centuries of the "times of the Gentiles," are contained in the "Syntaxis," or "Almagest" of Ptolemy.
In the existence of this invaluable work, and in its preservation as a precious remnant of antiquity, the hand of Providence can clearly be traced. The same Divine care which raised up Herodotus and other Greek historians to carry on the records of the past from the point to which they had been brought by the writings of the prophets at the close of the Babylonish captivity ;-the Providence which raised up Josephus, the Jewish historian, at the termination of New Testament history, to record the fulfilment of prophecy in the destruction of Jerusalem,- raised up also Ptolemy in the important interval which extended from Titus to Hadrian, that of the completion of Jewish desolation, to record the chronology of the nine previous centuries, and to associate it in such a way with the revolutions of the solar system as to permit of the most searching demonstration of its truth. Ptolemys great work, the "Almagest," is a treatise on astronomy, setting forth the researches of ancient observers and mathematicians with reference to the position of the stars, the exact length. of the year, and the elements of the orbits of the sun, moon, and planets. This work was written in Greek, and subsequently translated into Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, and Latin, etc.; it became the text-book of astronomic knowledge both in the East and in Europe, and retained that high position for about fourteen centuries, or till the time of Copernicus, the birth of modern astronomy, three centuries ago.
The chronological value of the "Almagest" is owing to the fact that it interweaves a series of ancient dates with a series of celestial positions. It contains a complete catalogue of the succession of Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman monarchs, from Nabonassar to Hadrian and Antoninus, together with the dates of their accession and the duration of their reigns. Its astronomic events are referred to definite historic dates, and by this connexion there is conferred on the latter the character of scientific certainty.
This important feature of the "Almagest" is described as follows in the "Chronoastrolabe," by James B. Lindsay, a work published in 1858, demonstrating the authenticity of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman chronology, etc., by astronomic methods:
"The Syntaxis of Ptolemy contains an account of many historic events, and blended with them is a multitude of astronomic observations. The astronomic and historic cannot be separated, and they must both stand or fall together. The astronomic can be rigidly verified, and the truth of the historic is a legitimate deduction."
In the "Almagest," "a celestial phenomenon is coupled with a terrestrial event. An eclipse of the moon or an acronic of Mars is assigned to a given year and day of a kings reign. The celestial mechanism, though complicate, is intelligible; the motions are calculable, and we can verify or falsify the recorded observations." With reference to Ptolemys Canon, or chronological list of the monarchs of the four great empires, Lindsay says: "The complete harmony that is to be found in this canon with the dates previously determined by eclipses, entitles it to our highest confidence. That Ptolemy was its author and not Theon, is confirmed by the fact that it is not continued beyond Antoninus, in whose reign our author dates most of his observations. We have had abundant evidence that he was a lover of labour and a lover of truth, and are fully warranted to regard this canon as giving to ancient history mathematical exactness. . . . The motions and phases of the luminaries are visible every day, and with these alone we have been able to authenticate the whole of the Almagest. Even the errors of Ptolemy augment, if possible, the evidence for the authenticity of the Syntaxis, and a foundation is laid for chronology sure as the stars. The external evidence for the text-book is most abundant. It is mentioned in terms of the highest approbation by Greek, Hebrew, and Arabian historians. In the ninth century the celebrated caliph, Al Mamun, caused it to be translated into Arabic. Persic and Hebrew versions engaged the attention of oriental savants in our middle ages, and at the dawn of printing Latin translations were abundantly diffused. . . . It is to Ptolemy that our modern astronomy is almost wholly due; but those who enjoy the benefit have forgotten the benefactor. The name of Ptolemy, who was certainly not inferior, perhaps superior, to Newton, is seldom mentioned but to be covered with pity or with ridicule. Even men of science have not given to Ptolemy the honour that belongs to him. Delambre has fancied that he was a mere copyist of Hipparchus, and that to the latter the excellences found in the Syntaxis are all to be attributed. Far be it from us to deny the greatness of Hipparchus, but Ptolemy was greater. His account of the ancient eclipses, and of their connexion with historic facts, is more precious than gold, and guarantees a translation of the Almagest into every language. In the want of modern instruments he may have made an error in the observation of the equinoxes, and all facts then known sanctioned the earths stability. Veritas proevalehit, and the worth of Ptolemy is again appreciated. La Place, Systhmo du Mondo, has seen his value."
In order to obtain a safe and scientific foundation for his mathematical calculations as to solar and lunar movements, including his valuable astronomic tables, Ptolemy compares three carefully selected, well attested ancient eclipses, observed at Babylon in the reign of Mardocempadus, with three other eclipses which he had observed at Alexandria in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and twentieth years of the reign of Hadrian. He similarly compares three eclipses which took place in the fourth century after Nabonassar, referred to by the celebrated Greek astronomer Hipparchus, with three other eclipses recorded by the same astronomer, which occurred two centuries later.
In this comparison Ptolemy deals with no less than four groups of ancient eclipses, Babylonian, Grecian, and Roman, containing three in each, twelve in all. These eclipses have been frequently verified by modern astronomers, and they combine to fix the chronological dates with which they are connected with the utmost certainty. If a single eclipse is sufficient to attest an ancient date, how conclusive the concurrent evidence afforded by four groups of eclipses! But these are not all the astronomic phenomena which Ptolemy records. We append a list of no less than eighty-five solar, lunar, and planetary positions, with their dates, as given in the "Almagest," and as verified by modern astronomers. This list contains four vernal equinoxes, eight autumnal, four summer solstices, nineteen lunar eclipses, nine lunar observations, and forty-one planetary observations, including sixteen of Mercury, ten of Venus, five of Mars, five of Jupiter, and five of Saturn. The time of the occurrence of these astronomic phenomena is measured by Ptolemy from noon of the first of the Egyptian month Thoth, in the first year of Nabonassar. The verification of the time of any of these events is the verification of the initial data from which the whole series is reckoned. Thoth 1 Nab. 1 is thus abundantly determined to be noon February 26th, B.C. 747.
[ As an illustration of Ptolemys use of the Nabonassar era as a fixed and constant epoch from which to measure various astronomic events, we quota the following, from his chapter on the epoch of the main movements of the moon in longitude and anomaly: "In order to reduce these epochs to noon of the first day of the Egyptian month Thoth of the first year of Nabonassar, we have taken the interval of time which elapses from this day to the middle of the second of the three first and nearest eclipses which happened, as we said, in the second year of Mardocempadus, between the 18th and 19th of the Egyptian month Thoth, at one- half and one-third of an equinoctial hour before midnight, which made an interval of twenty-seven Egyptian years (years of 365 days) seventeen days and 111 hours very nearly; and casting out two complete revolutions in longitude, 123 22 and 103 35, if we subtract respectively those quantities from the positions of the middle of the second eclipse, we shall have for the first year of Nabonassar, the first day of the Egyptian month Thoth, at noon, the mean place of the moon 11 22 of Taurus in longitude, and 263 49 anomaly, from the apogee of the epicycle, that is to say, at 7 37 elongation; the sun, as has been proved, being then in 00 45 of Picas."-" Almagest," chap. vii..]
In addition to this primary Babylonian date, these astronomic records fix directly the times of the Babylonian monarchs Mardocempadus and Nabopolassar, the Persian monarchs Cambyses and Darius, the Grecian dates employed by Hipparchus, and the dates of the Roman emperors Domitian, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pins; while indirectly they enable us to determine the dates of all the intermediate reigns recorded in Ptolemys ASTRONOMICAL CANON, a list of fifty-five successive reigns, extending over a period of 907 years, from Nabonassar of Babylon to the Roman emperor Antoninus Pius.
This invaluable Canon, representing the unbroken imperial rule administered by successive dynasties of Gentile empires, is divided by Ptolemy into four distinct parts.
1.Babylonian kings, twenty in number.
2.Persian kings, ten in number, terminating with Alexander the Great, of Macedon, eleven names in all.
3.Grecian kings, twelve in number.
4.Roman emperors, twelve in number.
The sum of years given in the calendar is divided into two parts: first, 424 years, from Nabonassar to Alexander of Macedon; and secondly, 483 years, from Philip Aridæus to Antoninus Pius. The striking and important agreement between the historical and chronological outline given in the canon of Ptolemy and that set forth in the fourfold image of Nebuchadnezzar s vision, described and interpreted by Daniel, is referred to by Faber in the following words: "As the good Spirit of God employs the four successive empires of Babylon, and Persia, and Greece, and Rome, in the capacity of THE GRAND CALENDAR OF PROPHECY, so Ptolemy has employed the very same four empires in the construction of his invaluable Canon; because the several lines of their sovereigns so begin and end, when the one line is engrafted upon the other line, as to form a single unbroken series from Nabonassar to Augustus Caesar. In each case the principle of continuous. arrangement is identical. Where Ptolemy makes the Persian Cyrus the immediate successor of the Babylonian Nabonadius, or Belshazzar, without taking into account the preceding kings of Persia or of Media, there, in the image, the silver joins itself to the gold; where Ptolemy makes the Grecian Alexander the immediate successor of the Persian Darius, without taking into account the preceding kings of Macedon, there, in the image, the brass joins itself to the silver; and where Ptolemy makes the Roman Augustus the immediate successor of the Grecian Cleopatra, without taking into account the long preceding roll of the consular Fasti and the primitive Roman monarchy, there, in the image, the iron joins itself to the brass. In short, the Canon of Ptolemy may well be deemed a running comment upon the altitudinal line of the great metallic image. As the parts of the image melt into each other, forming jointly one grand succession of supreme imperial domination, so the Canon of Ptolemy exhibits what may be called a picture of unbroken imperial rule, though administered by four successive dynasties, from Nabonassar to Augustus and his successors. ["Sacred Calendar of Prophecy," vol. ii., p. 7.]
ADJUSTMENT OF THE CHRONOLOGY OF SCRIPTURE TO THAT OF
THE ALMAGEST AND CANON OF PTOLEMY.
PTOLEMY, records in his "Almagest" seven eclipses belonging to the Babylonian and Persian periods. Of these, four occurred in the reigns of the Babylonian monarchs Mardocempadus and Nabopolassar, and three in the reigns of the Persians kings Cambyses and Darius. The dates of these eclipses are accurately given, and verified by astronomical calculation are as follows:
1. 721, March 19. 1st of Mardocempadns.
2. 720, ,, 8. 2nd of ,,
3. 720, Sept. 1. 2nd of ,,
4. 621, April 21. 5th of Nabopolassar.
5. 523, July 16. 7th of Cambyses.
6. 502, Nov. 19. 20th of Darius.
7. 491, April 25. 31st of ,,
The relative position of these dates in Ptolemys "Almagest" is in perfect correspondence with the dates of the Babylonian and Persian kings in his Canon. By the fourth of these eclipses the fifth year of Nabopolassar is fixed as B.C.
621. Nabopolassar reigned, according to the Canon, twenty-one years; and was followed by Nabopolassar, the Nebuchadnezzar of Scripture, who reigned forty- three years.
The reigns of the Babylonian and Persian monarchs connected with the Captivity and restoration of Judah are given in the Canon as follows:
BABYLONIAN KINGS. Nabokolassar . . . . 43 years. Ilvarodamus . . . . . 2 Nerikassolasar . . . 4 Nabonadius . . . . . 17
PERSIAN KINGS. Cyrus . . . . . . . . 9 years. Cambyses . . . . . . 8 Darius I. . . . . . 36 Xerxes . . . . . . . 21 Artaxerxes . . . . . 41
1. The destruction of the temple took place according to Scripture in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. As the three successors of Nabokolassar reigned respectively but two years, four years, and seventeen years, none of these can represent the Nebuchadnezzar of Scripture.
2. The captivity of Jehoiachin began, according to Scripture, in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar, lasted for thirty-seven years, and terminated in the first year of his successor, Evil-merodach. "It came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin out of prison" (#2Ki 25:27). The Evil-merodach of Scripture corresponds with the Ilvarodamus of the Canon of Ptolemy, and the interval from the eighth year of Nabokolassar to the first year of his successor, Ilvarodamus, includes in the Canon a period of thirty-seven years.
3. The seventy years interval, which extended, according to Scripture, from the beginning of the captivity of Judah, under Nebuchadnezzar, to the first year of Cyrus, further determines the position of Nebuchadnezzars reign. The Canon assigns sixty-six years from the first of Nabokolassar to the first of Cyrus. The captivity of Judah commenced B.C. 605, in the year which preceded the first of the sole monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar, and terminated B.C. 536, two years after the capture of Babylon by Darius. Ptolemy reckons the years of Cyrus from the date of the capture of Babylon, B.C. 538; but while this is admissible, the first year of his sole monarchy was B.C. 536. [CLINTON : "Epitome of Chron. of Greece," pp. 235-7.]
4. Darius the Mede is not mentioned by Ptolemy, because his reign was cotemporaneous with that of Cyrus. The notion entertained by some few that Darius the Mede was Darius Hystaspes is disproved by the opening verses of #Dan 11., where we read that "In the first year of Darius the Mede" the angel revealed to Daniel that there were yet three kings to arise in Persia, and that the fourth should be richer than them all, and by his strength through his riches should "stir up all against the realm of Grecia." This last was clearly Xerxes, and as Darius Hystaspes was his immediate predecessor, he could not have been Darius the Mede. Xerxes was the fourth king after Darius the Mede, and Darius Hystaspes was not Darius the Made, but the third after him.
5. Of the three Persian kings who intervened between Cyrus and Xerxes, Ptolemy omits Smerdis, because his reign was only seven months in duration, and reckons his period in the reign of Cambyses. The Canon consistently omits all reigns less than a year in duration, and includes their periods in the longer reigns. This fact is conspicuous in its chronology of the Roman emperors.
6. The position and period of the Artaxerxes I. of the Canon of Ptolemy correspond with those of the Artaxerxes of #Ezra 7. and of the book of Nehemiah. The forty-one years assigned by the Canon to the reign of Artaxerxes I. give room for the events and dates in Ezra and Nehemiah. The missions of these reformers took place in the seventh, twentieth, and thirty-second years of Artaxerxes, and fell within these forty-one years. The reigns of Artaxerxes predecessor and of his successor were respectively twenty-one and nineteen years, and therefore shorter than that of the Artaxerxes of Nehemiah.
7. Josephus, who lived before Ptolemy, and was therefore no copyist of his astronomical Canon, confirms and illustrates the foregoing chronology. It is noteworthy that he assigns forty-three years to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, which is the period assigned in the Canon to the reign of Nabokolassar. "Now when king Nebuchadnezzar had reigned forty-three years he ended his life" (Ant., x., c. xi.). The authorities quoted by Josephus in his account of Nebuchadnezzar are Berosus, Megasthenes, Diodes, and Philostratus, of whose works he says, "These are all the histories that I have met with concerning this king."
The liberation of Jehoiachin is thus described by Josephus: "After the death of Nebuchadnezzar, Evil-merodach his son succeeded in the kingdom, who immediately set Jechoniah at liberty, and esteemed him amongst his most intimate friends; he also gave him many presents, and made him honourable above the rest of the kings that were in Babylon: for his father had not kept his faith with Jechoniah when he voluntarily delivered up himself to him, with his wives and children, and his whole kindred, for the sake of his country, that it might not be taken by siege, and utterly destroyed."
The successors of Evil-merodach were, according to Josephus, Neglissar (the Nerikassolasar of Ptolemys Canon), Labosordachus, who reigned but nine months, and is consequently omitted in the Canon, and "Baltasar, who by the Babylonians was called Naboandelus; against him did Cyrus the king of Persia and Darius the king of Media make war, and when he was besieged in Babylon there happened a wonderful and prodigious vision"-the handwriting on the wall interpreted by Daniel. The Naboandelus of Josephus is evidently the Nabonadius of the Canon; but modern researches in the Assyrian records distinguish him from Belshazzar, who was slain in the capture of Babylon.
Josephus assigns seventeen years to the reign of Naboandelus (or Nabonadius), as does the Canon, and seventy years to the interval from the beginning of the Babylonish captivity to the first of Cyrus.
"Now after a little while both himself and the city were taken by Cyrus, the king of Persia, who fought against him; for it was Baltasar under whom Babylon was taken, when he had reigned seventeen years. And this is the end of the posterity of King Nebuchadnezzar, as history informs us; but when Babylon was taken by Darius, and when he with his kinsman Cyrus had put an end to the dominion of the Babylonians, he was sixty-two years old. He was the son of Astyages, and had another name among the Greeks.
["The book of Daniel states, that after the conquest of Babylon, a monarch named Darius the Mede took the kingdom previous to the reign of Cyrus. This Darius has not been identified with any prince known to history, and his reign has been supposed to have been short, not exceeding two years; this would reduce the accession of Cyrus as king of Babylon to B.C. 537, his first year, in which the Jews were released from captivity, falling in B.C. 536. Ptolemys Canon omits the reign of Darius, and gives the whole period from the capture of Babylon to the accession of Cambyses to Cyrus."-George Smith: "Assyrian Canon," p. 167.]
Moreover he took Daniel the prophet, and carried him with him into Media, and honoured him very greatly, and kept him with him; for he was one of the three presidents whom he set over his three hundred and sixty provinces, for into so many did Darius part them..
"In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, which was the seventieth from the day that our people were removed out of their own land into Babylon, God commiserated the captivity and calamity of these poor people, according as He had foretold to them by Jeremiah the prophet, before the destruction of the city."
8. The Greek historian Herodotus, who wrote in the fifth century B.C., confirms in many and various ways the Scripture account of the capture of Babylon by the Persians. The great work of Herodotus may be described as the story of the westward pushing of the Persian ram told by a contemporary. While the graphic and interesting pages of Herodotus shed a large amount of light on the period with which they deal, they are sadly disfigured by many erroneous statements. In his work on "The Ancient Empires of the East," published in 1884, Prof. Sayce, of Oxford, thus refers to the untrustworthiness in question:
"The discoveries which have been pouring in upon us of late years from all parts of the oriental world have made it possible to test the value of our chief classical authority for the history of the ancient East, and at the same time to give some idea of what that history actually was. So rapid indeed has been the progress of research, that not only have the essays attached to Rawlinsons translation of Herodotus already become antiquated, but even Francois Lenormants well known Manual of Ancient History has long since needed to be re-written.
Before the ground can be cleared for reconstructing the fabric of oriental antiquity from the remains it has itself left behind, it is absolutely necessary that the works of Herodotus and his followers should be set in their true light, and estimated at their true value. Herodotus cannot be accepted as a guide, unless we are first assured that his historical information is trustworthy, and his literary honesty unimpeachable. Whatever the cause or causes may have been, from the first he met with hostile criticism. Hardly had the generation for whom he wrote passed away before Thukydides tacitly accused him of errors, which the Attic historian corrected without even naming the author to whom they were due.
Modern research obliges us to endorse the judgment passed upon Herodotus almost as soon as his history was published.We are compelled to turn from the great writers of Greece and Rome as from unsafe guides. The literary value of their works can never be depreciated, and for western history their authority is supreme But the orientalist can never again go to them for instruction and argument with the faith of former generations: living witnesses, as it were, have started out of the grave of centuries to convict them of error and deceit."
9. While discrediting the value of Herodotus, these eastern witnesses confirm in a very remarkable manner the Canon of Ptolemy, and the historical and chronological statements contained in Scripture.
The following extracts are from "The Assyrian Eponym Canon: containing Translations of the Documents, and an Account of the Evidence, on the Comparative Chronology of the Assyrian and Jewish Kingdoms, from the Death of Solomon to Nebuchadnezzar," by George Smith, of the Department of Oriental Antiquities, British Museum; author of "History of Assurhanipal "; "Assyrian Discoveries," etc., etc.:
"One of the most important historical documents ever discovered was found by Sir Henry Rawlinson among the inscribed terra-cotta tablets, which Mr. Layard and other explorers brought over from Nineveh.
Sir Henry Rawlinson distinguished four copies of the Assyrian Canon, all imperfect, which he numbered I., II., III., IV.; but since his discovery of these, several new fragments have been found, belonging to Canon I., and to three further copies, Canons V., VI., VII. All these documents, so far as they are preserved, closely agree. They consist of lists of the annual eponymes in their chronological order, and to those names in Canons V., VI., VII. there are added the titles of the eponymes, and short notices of the principal events during their terms of office " (pp.27, 28).
"In Assyria the practice of dating documents according to the regnal years of the reigning monarchs was seldom used, by far the greater number of inscriptions being dated by the names of certain officers called by the Assyrian limu; a word which, by general consent, is translated eponym. The Assyrian limu or eponymes were appointed according to a general rotation; and each one in succession held office for a year, and gave name to that year; the usage of the Assyrians in this respect being similar to that of the archons at Athens, and the consuls at Rome. The lord mayors of London are also appointed for a year, and a parallel case would be presented if He dated our documents according to the year when successive lord mayors held office: calling the years after their names" (p.22).
THE ASSYRIAN EPONYM CANON AND CANON OF PTOLEMY COMPARED.
"The important bearing of the Assyrian Canon on general chronology is shown most clearly in its relations to the Canon of Ptolemy and the chronology of the books of Kings.
"So far as it has been tested, the Canon has proved an accurate and reliable document; and it is therefore of the first importance to compare its dates with those of the Assyrian Canon wherever it is possible to do so. "The list of Ptolemy in the Assyrian period is as follows:
LIST. Length of reign Date B.C. Nabonassar 14 747 Nabius 2 733 Chinzirus and Porus 5 731 Jugæus or Ilulæus 5 726 Mardocempadus 12 721 Arkianus 5 709 Interregnum 2 704 Belibus 3 702 Apronadisus 6 699 Iregibelus 1 693 Mesesimordakus 4 692 Interregnum 8 688 Asaridinus 13 680 Saosduchinus 20 667 Isiniladanus 22 647 Nabopolassar 21 625
"We have here sixteen dates to compare with the Assyrian annals, and our evidence confirms ten of them; the two first, three in the middle, and the last being
the only ones on which no information has been discovered. The third date of Ptolemy, the first year of Chinzirus and Porus, B.C. 731, is the point where his list and the Assyrian Canon first come into contact. In the eponymy corresponding to B.C. 731, Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, invaded Babylonia, killed Nabe-asabsi, who may correspond to the Nabius of Ptolemy, and besieged Kin-ziru (the Chinzirus of Ptolemy) in his capital, Sapiya. Some time after this, Tiglath-pileser claimed the Babylonian crown; and the Canon of Ptolemy inserts with the name of Chinzirus that of Porus or Pul, who has been supposed by Rawlinson, Schrader, and others to be the same as Tiglath-pileser.
"The next date in Ptolemy, B.C. 726, is also the first year of Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, who ascended the throne B.C. 727.
"The Mardocempadus of Ptolemy is well known as the Merodach-baladan of the Second Book of Kings, and the Marudukbalidina of the inscriptions, who ascended the throne of Babylon B.C. 722, contemporary with the accession of Sargon, in Assyria, the first year of the reign of both monarchs being B.C. 721, perfectly agreeing with Ptolemy. Thus Arkianus, who according to Ptolemy succeeded him, and had his first year in B.C. 709, must be Sargon, who conquered Merodach- baladan in B.C. 710, and who counts his own first year as king of Babylon equivalent to his thirteenth in Assyria, B.C. 709.
"The reign of Sargon ended B.C. 705, and Ptolemy reckons B.C. 704 and 703 as years of interregnum. According to the Assyrian inscriptions, in B.C. 704 Sennacherib drove out Merodach-baladan, and in B.C. 703 set up at Babylon Bel- ibni, whom Ptolemy calls Belibus, giving his first year 702 B.C. In the year B.C. 700 Sennacherib again invaded the country, and sot up his son Assur-nadin-sum as king of Babylon; he corresponds to the Apronadisus of Ptolemy; his first year was B.C. 699. The following dates of Ptolemy, B.C. 693, 692, and 688, are not confirmed by any known inscription; but the next data, B.C. 680, for the first year of Esarhaddon, agrees with the Assyrian inscriptions, which make his accession B.C. 681. The first year of Saosduchinus, according to Ptolemy, B.C. 667, also agrees with his accession, according to the Assyrian history, on the death of Esarhaddon, B.C. 668. _________________________________________________________________
[Compare Morton Edgar on Ptolemy; Chronology in Pyramid Passages, now on Bible Students Library CD-ROM. Ed.]
ACCOUNT OF THE CAPTURE OF BABYLON BY CYRUS.
FROM THE ASSYRIAN ANNALS.
"At the and of the month Elul (August) the gods of Akkad, who were above the atmosphere, came down to Babylon, The gods of Borsippa, Cutha, and Sippara came not down. In the month Tammuz (June) Cyrus made battle in Rutum against .
. . of the river Nizallat. The men of Akkad made a revolt. The soldiers took Sippara on the fourteenth day without fighting, and Nabonidus fled away. On the sixteenth day Gobryas, the governor of Gutium, and the army of Cyrus came to Babylon without any opposition. Afterwards, having bound Nabonidus, he took him to Babylon. At the and of the month Tammuz the rebels of Gutium closed the gates of E-sagili; but neither in that temple nor any other temple of the country was there found a weapon for its defence. In the month Marchesvan (October), the third day, Cyrus came to Babylon; the roads were dark before him.. He made peace to the city and promised peace to all Babylon. Cyrus appointed Gobryas to be governor in Babylon together with others. From the month Kislev (November) to the month Adar (February) they brought back to their shrines the gods of Akkad, whom Nabonidus had sent down to Babylon, In the month of Marchesvan (October) the dark, the eleventh day, Gobryas . . . and the king (Nabonidus) died. From the 27th of the month Adar (February) to the third day of the month Nisan (March) there was weeping in Akkad. All the people were free from their chief. On the fourth day Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, in the Temple of the Sceptre of the World, established a festival.
"This is the brief history of the conquest of Babylon as recorded in the annals ; and it will be easy to see that it was brought about by other things than force of arms. There was a revolt among the troops of Nabonidus, and he fled, hence Sippara was easily taken, and the rebels who shut themselves up in E-sagili were without arms, therefore they were subdued without difficulty. There is a fragment of a cylinder in the British Museum which was drawn up by the command of Cyrus, and which gives his account of the taking of Babylon. As this famous record is so important, a paraphrase is here given.
"The first few lines of the fragment are much broken, and only a few words are readable, but the general import of them seems to be that under the care of Nabonidus the rites of the temples were discontinued, and that the ordinary offerings and sacrifices were left unperformed. At this Merodach, the lord of the gods, grieved, and the gods left their respective shrines. At the sacred feasts which were celebrated within Kal-anna Merodach did not appear, he had taken himself away to other peoples. Merodach was kind to the people of Sumir and Akkad, and he returned, and rejoiced all the countries. He sought out a king for himself who would perform according to the hearts desire of the god whatever was entrusted to his hand. He proclaimed the renown of Cyrus the king of Anzan (Persia), throughout the length and breadth of the land, and he proclaimed his glory to all. He made all the people of Gutium, whom he had gathered to his feet, and all the dark races whom he had caused his hand to take, to dwell under law and righteousness. Merodach, the great lord, directed his (Cyrus) hand and heart; he lived happily. The god commanded him to make the march to his city Babylon; he made him take the road to Tintir (Babylon); the forces of Cyrus marched like a cloud and an earth wall. His army was wide-spreading and far-reaching like the waters of a river, his forces were without number. He made them enter Kal-anna without fighting and without contest; he made breaches all round the city, and he (the god) delivered Nabonidus, who did not reverence him, into the hands of Cyrus. All the people of Tintir and all the people of Akkad and Sumir, nobles, and priests, who had opposed the king, he crushed beneath him, and they came and kissed his feet. And than the god Merodach, who by his service makes the dead to live, and who in difficulty and trouble aids every one, drew near to him favourably and made known his proclamation, saying, I am Cyrus the king, . . . the great king, the mighty king, king of Tintir, king of Sumir and Akkad, king of the four regions of the earth, the son of Cambyses, the great king, king of the city Anzan, grandson of Cyrus, the great king, king of the city of Anzan, great-grandson of Teispes, the great king of the city of Anzan, of the ancient seed of royalty, whose dominion (reign) Bel and Nebo had exalted according to the beneficence of their hearts.
"After Cyrus entered Babylon with joy and gladness, he enlarged the royal palace, the seat of royalty, and Merodach, whom the Babylonians had grieved, daily rejoiced the heart of his followers. His wide-spreading forces were spread over the land peacefully, and he repaired the cities and made joyful the children of Babylon. Cyrus was careful to repair immediately the temple of the god Merodach, and the god was pleased to approach him favourably. All the kings of Phenicia and round about brought their tribute and kissed the feat of Cyrus. He restored the shrines and dwelling-places of the gods of the towns of Agade Isnumnak, Zamban, and elsewhere. The gods of Akkad and Sumir, which Nabonidus had brought from their shrines for the final festival, Cyrus restored to their places. The last line or two of the inscription tells us that he prayed daily to Nebo and Bel, that they would be pleased to prolong his days, to bless the decree for his prosperity, and that Merodach would regard him as his faithful follower and son..
"Such is the account given of this remarkable fragment of the fall of Babylon. It will be remembered that the old historian Herodotus tells us that Cyrus drained the river Euphrates nearly dry by means of a canal running into a lake, and that the Persians marched up through the river gates, which were carelessly left open by the Babylonians. No mention of this is made in the inscriptions; but there is no reason why Cyrus should not have had recourse to this means as well as to fighting. We have mentioned that Nabonidus had entrusted the charge of the Babylonian army to his son Belshazzar, and the Bible tells us that he was slain on the awful night of the capture of Babylon. It makes no mention of Nabonidus. Josephus says, And when Neriglissar was dead the kingdom came to Baltasar, who by the Babylonians was called Naboandelus; and in another part of his book he calls Nabonidus Nabonnedon. Now it is evident that the father Nabonidus and the son Belshazzar became confused in the minds of the writers of the histories, but one and the same king is meant. It was natural that foreigners should consider Belshazzar to be the king, because he was master of the army.
"The Bible and Josephus record an event in this kings life which the inscriptions and Herodotus mention not. It is said Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father (i.e. his ancestor) Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. . . . In the same hour came forth fingers of a mans hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the kings palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Belshazzar, exceedingly terrified at this, called for all the astrologers, soothsayers, and augurs, and demanded an interpretation; but none could read it. At last came Daniel, the servant of the Lord, and read the awful dictum to the king- Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin ; i e., God bath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it; thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting; thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. A verse or two later we read: In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain.
"The Babylonians had heard for years of the conquests of Cyrus, but they felt secure when they remembered the walls of their city, and the huge gates which broke their line at short distances. They thought of their past conquests, of their glories, of their old lines of kings, and were insolently secure in their hearts. The prophets of Israel denounced Babylon in their prophecies; all nations took up the cry of joy at her downfall, and the cry, Babylon is fallen ! resounded from city to city, and from one and of the earth to the other."