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



VERY little has been discovered of the times of Assyria after the reign of Assur-bani-pal; and that which has come to light is very obscure. The best information so far derived is that Assur=emid= ilin, or Assur-etil-ilani-yukinni, was the son and successor of Assur-bani-pal. 1 But the greatness of Assyria was past. The long succession of mighty kings had again filled Nineveh with luxury; with luxury came its inevitable attendants—vice and weakness: and God had again declared the result. EB 376.1

2. “The burden of Nineveh.” “Woe to the bloody city.! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not; the noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the prancing horses, and of the jumping chariots. The horseman lifted up both the bright sword and glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcasses; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses: because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts. EB 376.2

3. “Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of Hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will show the nations thy nakedness, and thy kingdoms shame. And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazing-stock. And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee? EB 376.3

4. “Art thou better than populous No, that was situate among the rivers, that had the waters round about it, whose rampart was the sea, and her was from the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Lubim were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity: her young children also were dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men were bound in chains. EB 376.4

5. “Thou also shalt be drunken: thou shalt be hid, thou also shalt seek strength because of the enemy. All thy strongholds shall be like fig-trees with the first ripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater. Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women: the gates of thy land shall be set wide open unto thine enemies: the fire shall devour thy bars. EB 377.1

6. “Draw thee waters for the siege, fortify thy strongholds: go into clay, and tread the mortar, make strong the brick-kiln. There shall the fire devour thee; the sword shall cut thee off, it shall eat thee up like the canker-worm, make thyself many as the cankerworm, make thyself many as the locusts. EB 377.2

7. “Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of heaven: the canker-worm 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 ariseth they flee away, and their place is not known where they are. EB 377.3

8. “Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” 2 EB 377.4

9. “And He will stretch out His hand against the north, and destroy Assyria; and will make Nineveh a desolation, and dry like a wilderness.” 3 EB 377.5

10. These troubles began to come upon Assyria almost as soon as Assur-emid-ilin came to the throne. His empire was threatened from three sides—Media, Babylon, and Egypt—all at once. Media, under Phraortes, was now organized into a powerful monarchy, and advanced upon Assyria from the east; Babylonia threw off the Assyrian yoke; and Psammeticus of Egypt invaded the Assyrian dominions on the west and laid siege to Ashdod. EB 377.6

11. This danger to his empire was promptly met by the king of Assyria. He immediately raised two armies, one of which he placed under the command of Nabopolassar (Nabu-pal-uzur), and sent it to subdue the revolted Babylonia; the other, he in person led to meet the coming forces of Media. Nabopolassar so effectually performed his appointed service as to merit and receive from his sovereign the honorable title of “King of Babylon,” 625 B. C. Assur-emid-ilin met the Medes, drove them back, and pursued them into their own country, where he finally brought them to bay in the plain of Rhages, and inflicted upon them a crushing defeat, in which the Median king was slain. EB 378.1

12. Cyaxares, however, the son of Phraortes, immediately succeeded to the throne and power of Media. He continued the war, drove the king of Assyria out of Media, and in his turn invaded Assyria; he threatened a siege of Nineveh, but was just then recalled to his own country by the ravages of barbarians from the north. The barbarous Scythian hordes poured into Media. “On they came ... like a flight of locusts, countless, irresistible—swarming into Iberia and upper Media—finding before them a garden, and leaving it behind them a howling wilderness.”—Rawlinson. 4 Cyaxares me them, was defeated, and was compelled to make terms with the invaders, and to pay an annual tribute. EB 378.2

13. But the Scythians did not confine themselves to Media. They swept down through the passes of the Zagros Mountains into Assyria. “The tide swept on. Wandering from district to district, plundering everywhere, settling nowhere, the clouds of horse passed over Mesopotamia, the force of the invasion becoming weaker as it spread itself, until in Syria it reached its term through the policy of the Egyptian king, Psammeticus.” 5 “Psammeticus went out and met these barbarians, and by rich presents tempted them to turn aside and not invade Egypt.” The power of the Scythians continued about fourteen years, when finally Cyaxares invited all the chiefs to a banquet, got them drunk, put them all to death, and then succeeded in driving their hordes back into Scythia. During these years Assur-emid-ilin dies, and from the broken records there is no certainty as to who was his immediate successor. EB 378.3

14. Sin=sar=iskun, however, was upon the throne of Assyria when the countries were relieved of the Scythian scourge, about 611 B. C. Assyria had been greatly weakened by the invasion of the Scyths; more so, indeed, than had Media; and immediately enemies rose up on all sides. Nabopolassar, who had now for about fifteen years been consolidating and strengthening his power at Babylon, determined to possess that province, in his own right. To make success certain, he entered into an alliance with Necho, king of Egypt, who in 612 B. C. had succeeded Psammeticus. Then, by virtue of this alliance, he sent an embassy to Cyaxares, of Media, asking him to join in a triple alliance; and they would all together attack the Assyrian Empire. EB 379.1

15. The king of Media was only too glad of such a golden opportunity to complete the enterprise from which he had been turned by the Scythic invasion; and, without a moment’s delay, he accepted the proposition. More closely to bind the alliance, the king of Media gave in marriage his daughter Amyitis to Nebuchadnezzar, the son of Nabopolassar. In the year 610 B. C. these united powers invaded Assyria. EB 379.2

16. Necho came out of Egypt, and hurried on to the seizure of Carchemish, which was now a strong Assyrian fortress, and the connecting link between Assyria and all the west. He besieged and captured Carchemish, and occupied it with his army, thus at one stroke severing all the Assyrian territory west of the Euphrates. Necho fixed his headquarters “at Riblah in the land of Hamath,” and exercised his power as suzerain over the western kingdoms that had been subject to Assyria. 6 EB 379.3

17. Nabopolassar and Cyaxares both went up against the king of Assyria himself, and besieged Nineveh. Sin-sar-iskun, after exhausting every means of resistance, burned himself in his palace, and Nineveh was destroyed. EB 379.4

18. Thus perished forever, the Assyrian Empire, after an independency of more than a thousand years; an ascendency of about three hundred and fifty years; and which had been built up and ruled by a succession of conquerors such as has never been in any other nation in the world except Rome. EB 380.1

19. And that which God said more than twenty-five hundred years ago, that Nineveh should be, she is to-day: “And flocks shall lie down in the midst of her, all the beasts of the nations: both the cormorant and the bittern shall lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice shall sing in the windows; desolation shall be in the thresholds: for he shall uncover the cedar work. EB 380.2

20. “This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passeth by her shall hiss, and wag his hand.” 7 EB 380.3