Of the two Contemporary Empires of the Babylonians and Medesby@isaacnewton
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Of the two Contemporary Empires of the Babylonians and Medes

by Isaac NewtonFebruary 5th, 2023
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By the fall of the Assyrian Empire the Kingdoms of the Babylonians and Medes grew great and potent. The Reigns of the Kings of Babylon are stated in Ptolemy's Canon: for understanding of which you are to note that every King's Reign in that Canon began with the last Thoth of his predecessor's Reign, as I gather by comparing the Reigns of the Roman Emperors in that Canon with their Reigns recorded in years, months, and days, by other Authors: whence it appears from that Canon that Asserhadon died in the year of Nabonassar 81, Saosduchinus his successor in the year 101, Chyniladon in the year 123, Nabopolassar in the year 144, and Nebuchadnezzar in the year 187. All these Kings, and some others mentioned in the Canon, Reigned successively over Babylon, and this last King died in the 37th year of Jechoniah's captivity, 2 Kings xxv. 27. and therefore Jechoniah was captivated in the 150th year of Nabonassar.
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The Chronology of Ancient Kingdoms Amended by Isaac Newton, is part of the HackerNoon Books Series. You can jump to any chapter in this book here. Of the two Contemporary Empires of the Babylonians and Medes

Of the two Contemporary Empires of the Babylonians and Medes.

By the fall of the Assyrian Empire the Kingdoms of the Babylonians and Medes grew great and potent. The Reigns of the Kings of Babylon are stated in Ptolemy's Canon: for understanding of which you are to note that every King's Reign in that Canon began with the last Thoth of his predecessor's Reign, as I gather by comparing the Reigns of the Roman Emperors in that Canon with their Reigns recorded in years, months, and days, by other Authors: whence it appears from that Canon that Asserhadon died in the year of Nabonassar 81, Saosduchinus his successor in the year 101, Chyniladon in the year 123, Nabopolassar in the year 144, and Nebuchadnezzar in the year 187. All these Kings, and some others mentioned in the Canon, Reigned successively over Babylon, and this last King died in the 37th year of Jechoniah's captivity, 2 Kings xxv. 27. and therefore Jechoniah was captivated in the 150th year of Nabonassar.

This captivity was in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar's Reign, 2 Kings xxiv. 12. and eleventh of Jehoiakim's: for the first year of Nebuchadnezzar's Reign was the fourth of Jehoiakim's, Jer. xxv. i. and Jehoiakim Reigned eleven years before this captivity, 2 Kings xxiii. 36. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 5, and Jechoniah three months, ending with the captivity; and the tenth year of Jechoniah's captivity, was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar's Reign, Jer. xxxii. 1. and the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in which Jerusalem was taken, was the nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar, Jer. lii. 5, 12. and therefore Nebuchadnezzar began his Reign in the year of Nabonassar 142, that is, two years before the death of his father Nabopolassar, he being then made King by his father; and Jehoiakim succeeded his father Josiah in the year of Nabonassar 139; and Jerusalem was taken and the Temple burnt in the year of Nabonassar 160, about twenty years after the destruction of Nineveh.

The Reign of Darius Hystaspis over Persia, by the Canon and the consent of all Chronologers, and by several Eclipses of the Moon, began in spring in the year of Nabonassar 227: and in the fourth year of King Darius, in the 4th day of the ninth month, which is the month Chisleu, when the Jews had sent unto the house of God, saying, should I weep in the fifth month as I have done these so many years? the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, saying, speak to all the people of the Land, and to the Priests, saying; when ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me? Zech. vii. Count backwards those seventy years in which they fasted in the fifth month for the burning of the Temple, and in the seventh for the death of Gedaliah; and the burning of the Temple and death of Gedaliah, will fall upon the fifth and seventh Jewish months, in the year of Nabonassar 160, as above.

As the Chaldæan Astronomers counted the Reigns of their Kings by the years of Nabonassar, beginning with the month Thoth, so the Jews, as their Authors tell us, counted the Reigns of theirs by the years of Moses, beginning every year with the month Nisan: for if any King began his Reign a few days before this month began, it was reckoned to him for a whole year, and the beginning of this month was accounted the beginning of the second year of his Reign; and according to this reckoning the first year of Jehojakim began with the month Nisan, Anno Nabonass. 139, tho' his Reign might not really begin 'till five or six months after; and the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and first of Nebuchadnezzar, according to the reckoning of the Jews, began with the month Nisan, Anno Nabonass. 142; and the first year of Zedekiah and of Jeconiah's captivity, and ninth year of Nebuchadnezzar, began with the month Nisan, in the year of Nabonassar 150; and the tenth year of Zedekiah, and 18th of Nebuchadnezzar, began with the month Nisan in the year of Nabonassar 159. Now in the ninth year of Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judæa and the cities thereof and in the tenth month of that year, and tenth day of the month, he and his host besieged Jerusalem, 2 Kings xxv. 1. Jer. xxxiv. 1, xxxix. 1, and lii. 4. From this time to the tenth month in the second year of Darius are just seventy years, and accordingly, upon the 24th day of the eleventh month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came unto Zechariah,—and the Angel of the Lord said, Oh Lord of Hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation, these threescore and ten years, Zech. i. 7, 12. So then the ninth year of Zedekiah, in which this indignation against Jerusalem and the cities of Judah began, commenced with the month Nisan in the year of Nabonassar 158; and the eleventh year of Zedekiah, and nineteenth of Nebuchadnezzar, in which the city was taken and the Temple burnt, commenced with the month Nisan in the year of Nabonassar 160, as above.

By all these characters the years of Jehoiakim, Zedekiah, and Nebuchadnezzar, seem to be sufficiently determined, and thereby the Chronology of the Jews in the Old Testament is connected with that of later times: for between the death of Solomon and the ninth year of Zedekiah wherein Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judæa, and began the Siege of Jerusalem, there were 390 years, as is manifest both by the prophesy of Ezekiel, chap. iv, and by summing up the years of the Kings of Judah; and from the ninth year of Zedekiah inclusively to the vulgar Æra of Christ, there were 590 years: and both these numbers, with half the Reign of Solomon, make up a thousand years.

In the [378] end of the Reign of Josiah, Anno Nabonass. 139, Pharaoh Nechoh, the successor of Psammitichus, came with a great army out of Egypt against the King of Assyria, and being denied passage through Judæa, beat the Jews at Megiddo or Magdolus before Egypt, slew Josiah their King, marched to Carchemish or Circutium, a town of Mesopotamia upon Euphrates, and took it, possest himself of the cities of Syria, sent for Jehoahaz the new King of Judah to Riblah or Antioch, deposed him there, made Jehojakim King in the room of Josiah, and put the Kingdom of Judah to tribute: but the King of Assyria being in the mean time besieged and subdued, and Nineveh destroyed by Assuerus King of the Medes, and Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, and the conquerors being thereby entitled to the countries belonging to the King of Assyria, they led their victorious armies against the King of Egypt who had seized part of them. For Nebuchadnezzar, assisted [379] by Astibares, that is, by Astivares, Assuerus, Acksweres, Axeres, or Cy-Axeres, King of the Medes, in the [380] third year of Jehoiakim, came with an army of Babylonians, Medes, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites, to the number of 10000 chariots, and 180000 foot, and 120000 horse, and laid waste Samaria, Galilee, Scythopolis, and the Jews in Galaaditis, and besieged Jerusalem, and took King Jehoiakim alive, and [381] bound him in chains for a time, and carried to Babylon Daniel and others of the people, and part of what Gold and Silver and Brass they found in the Temple: and in [382] the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which was the twentieth of Nabopolassar, they routed the army of Pharaoh Nechoh at Carchemish, and by pursuing the war took from the King of Egypt whatever pertained to him from the river of Egypt to the river of Euphrates. This King of Egypt is called by Berosus, [383] the Satrapa of Egypt, Cœle-Syria, and Phœnicia; and this victory over him put an end to his Reign in Cœle-Syria and Phœnicia, which he had newly invaded, and gave a beginning to the Reign of Nebuchadnezzar there: and by the conquests over Assyria and Syria the small Kingdom of Babylon was erected into a potent Empire.

Whilst Nebuchadnezzar was acting in Syria, [384] his father Nabopolassar died, having Reigned 21 years; and Nebuchadnezzar upon the news thereof, having ordered his affairs in Syria returned to Babylon, leaving the captives and his army with his servants to follow him: and from henceforward he applied himself sometimes to war, conquering Sittacene, Susiana, Arabia, Edom, Egypt, and some other countries; and sometimes to peace, adorning the Temple of Belus with the spoils that he had taken; and the city of Babylon with magnificent walls and gates, and stately palaces and pensile gardens, as Berosus relates; and amongst other things he cut the new rivers Naarmalcha and Pallacopas above Babylon and built the city of Teredon.

Judæa was now in servitude under the King of Babylon, being invaded and subdued in the third and fourth years of Jehoiakim, and Jehoiakim served him three years, and then turned and rebelled, 2 King. xxiv. 1. While Nebuchadnezzar and the army of the Chaldæans continued in Syria, Jehojakim was under compulsion; after they returned to Babylon, Jehojakim continued in fidelity three years, that is, during the 7th, 8th and 9th years of his Reign, and rebelled in the tenth: whereupon in the return or end of the year, that is in spring, he sent [385] and besieged Jerusalem, captivated Jeconiah the son and successor of Jehoiakim, spoiled the Temple, and carried away to Babylon the Princes, craftsmen, smiths, and all that were fit for war: and, when none remained but the poorest of the people, made [386] Zedekiah their King, and bound him upon oath to serve the King of Babylon: this was in spring in the end of the eleventh year of Jehoiakim, and beginning of the year of Nabonassar 150.

Zedekiah notwithstanding his oath [387] revolted, and made a covenant with the King of Egypt, and therefore Nebuchadnezzar in the ninth year of Zedekiah [388] invaded Judæa and the cities thereof, and in the tenth Jewish month of that year besieged Jerusalem again, and in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the 4th and 5th months, after a siege of one year and an half, took and burnt the City and Temple.

Nebuchadnezzar after he was made King by his father Reigned over Phœnicia and Cœle-Syria 45 years, and [389] after the death of his father 43 years, and [390] after the captivity of Jeconiah 37; and then was succeeded by his son Evilmerodach, called Iluarodamus in Ptolemy's Canon. Jerome [391] tells us, that Evilmerodach Reigned seven years in his father's life-time, while his father did eat grass with oxen, and after his father's restoration was put in prison with Jeconiah King of Judah 'till the death of his father, and then succeeded in the Throne. In the fifth year of Jeconiah's captivity, Belshazzar was next in dignity to his father Nebuchadnezzar, and was designed to be his successor, Baruch i. 2, 10, 11, 12, 14, and therefore Evilmerodach was even then in disgrace. Upon his coming to the Throne [392] he brought his friend and companion Jeconiah out of prison on the 27th day of the twelfth month; so that Nebuchadnezzar died in the end of winter, Anno Nabonass. 187.

Evilmerodach Reigned two years after his father's death, and for his lust and evil manners was slain by his sister's husband Neriglissar, or Nergalassar, Nabonass. 189, according to the Canon.

Neriglissar, in the name of his young son Labosordachus, or Laboasserdach, the grand-child of Nebuchadnezzar by his daughter, Reigned four years, according to the Canon and Berosus, including the short Reign of Laboasserdach alone: for Laboasserdach, according to Berosus and Josephus, Reigned nine months after the death of his father, and then for his evil manners was slain in a feast, by the conspiracy of his friends with Nabonnedus a Babylonian, to whom by consent they gave the Kingdom: but these nine months are not reckoned apart in the Canon.

Nabonnedus or Nabonadius, according to the Canon, began his Reign in the year of Nabonassar 193, Reigned seventeen years, and ended his Reign in the year of Nabonassar 210, being then vanquished and Babylon taken by Cyrus.

Herodotus calls this last King of Babylon, Labynitus, and says that he was the son of a former Labynitus, and of Nitocris an eminent Queen of Babylon: by the father he seems to understand that Labynitus, who, as he tells us, was King of Babylon when the great Eclipse of the Sun predicted by Thales put an end to the five years war between the Medes and Lydians; and this was the great Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel [393] calls the last King of Babylon, Belshazzar, and saith that Nebuchadnezzar was his father: and Josephus tells us, [394] that the last King of Babylon was called Naboandel by the Babylonians, and Reigned seventeen years; and therefore he is the same King of Babylon with Nabonnedus or Labynitus; and this is more agreeable to sacred writ than to make Nabonnedus a stranger to the royal line: for all nations were to serve Nebuchadnezzar and his posterity, till the very time of his land should come, and many nations should serve themselves of him, Jer. xxvii. 7. Belshazzar was born and lived in honour before the fifth year of Jeconiah's captivity, which was the eleventh year of Nebuchadnezzar's Reign; and therefore he was above 34 years old at the death of Evilmerodach, and so could be no other King than Nabonnedus: for Laboasserdach the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar was a child when he Reigned.

Herodotus [395] tells us, that there were two famous Queens of Babylon, Semiramis and Nitocris; and that the latter was more skilful: she observing that the Kingdom of the Medes, having subdued many cities, and among others Nineveh, was become great and potent, intercepted and fortified the passages out of Media into Babylonia; and the river which before was straight, she made crooked with great windings, that it might be more sedate and less apt to overflow: and on the side of the river above Babylon, in imitation of the Lake of Mœris in Egypt, she dug a Lake every way forty miles broad, to receive the water of the river, and keep it for watering the land. She built also a bridge over the river in the middle of Babylon, turning the stream into the Lake 'till the bridge was built. Philostratus saith, [396] that she made a bridge under the river two fathoms broad, meaning an arched vault over which the river flowed, and under which they might walk cross the river: he calls her Μηδεια, a Mede.

Berosus tells us, that Nebuchadnezzar built a pensile garden upon arches, because his wife was a Mede and delighted in mountainous prospects, such as abounded in Media, but were wanting in Babylonia: she was Amyite the daughter of Astyages, and sister of Cyaxeres, Kings of the Medes. Nebuchadnezzar married her upon a league between the two families against the King of Assyria: but Nitocris might be another woman who in the Reign of her son Labynitus, a voluptuous and vicious King, took care of his affairs, and for securing his Kingdom against the Medes, did the works above mentioned. This is that Queen mentioned in Daniel, chap. v. ver. 10.

Josephus [397] relates out of the Tyrian records, that in the Reign of Ithobalus King of Tyre, that city was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar thirteen years together: in the end of that siege Ithobalus their King was slain, Ezek. xxviii. 8, 9, 10. and after him, according to the Tyrian records, Reigned Baal ten years, Ecnibalus and Chelbes one year, Abbarus three months, Mytgonus and Gerastratus six years, Balatorus one year, Merbalus four years, and Iromus twenty years: and in the fourteenth year of Iromus, say the Tyrian records, the Reign of Cyrus began in Babylonia; therefore the siege of Tyre began 48 years and some months before the Reign of Cyrus in Babylonia: it began when Jerusalem had been newly taken and burnt, with the Temple, Ezek. xxvi and by consequence after the eleventh year of Jeconiah's captivity, or 160th year of Nabonassar, and therefore the Reign of Cyrus in Babylonia began after the year of Nabonassar 208: it ended before the eight and twentieth year of Jeconiah's captivity, or 176th year of Nabonassar, Ezek. xxix. 17. and therefore the Reign of Cyrus in Babylonia began before the year of Nabonassar 211. By this argument the first year of Cyrus in Babylonia was one of the two intermediate years 209, 210. Cyrus invaded Babylonia in the year of Nabonassar 209; [398] Babylon held out, and the next year was taken, Jer. li. 39, 57. by diverting the river Euphrates, and entring the city through the emptied channel, and by consequence after midsummer: for the river, by the melting of the snow in Armenia, overflows yearly in the beginning of summer, but in the heat of dimmer grows low. [399] And that night was the King of Babylon slain, and Darius the Mede, or King of the Medes, took the Kingdom being about threescore and two years old: so then Babylon was taken a month or two after the summer solstice, in the year of Nabonassar 210; as the Canon also represents.

The Kings of the Medes before Cyrus were Dejoces, Phraortes, Astyages, Cyaxeres, or Cyaxares, and Darius: the three first Reigned before the Kingdom grew great, the two last were great conquerors, and erected the Empire; for Æschylus, who flourished in the Reigns of Darius Hystaspis, and Xerxes, and died in the 76th Olympiad, introduces Darius thus complaining of those who persuaded his son Xerxes to invade Greece; [400]

Τοιγαρ σφιν εργον εστιν εξειργασμενον
Μεγιστον, αιειμνηστον ‛οιον ουδεπω,
Το δ' αστυ Σουσων εξεκεινωσεν πεσον·
Εξ ‛ουτε τιμην Ζευς αναξ τηνδ' ωπασεν
Εν ανδρα πασης Ασιαδος μηλοτροφου
Ταγειν, εχοντα σκηπτρον ευθυντηριον
Μηδος γαρ ην ‛ο πρωτος ‛ηγεμων στρατου·
Αλλος δ' εκεινου παις τοδ' εργον ηνυσε·
Φρενες γαρ αυτου θυμον οιακοστροφουν.
Τριτος δ' απ' αυτου Κυρος, ευδαιμων ανηρ, &c.

They have done a work
The greatest, and most memorable, such as never happen'd,
For it has emptied the falling Sufa:
From the time that King Jupiter granted this honour,
That one man should Reign over all fruitful Asia,
Having the imperial Scepter.
For he that first led the Army was a Mede;
The next, who was his son, finisht the work,
For prudence directed his soul;
The third was Cyrus, a happy man, &c.

The Poet here attributes the founding of the Medo-Persian Empire to the two immediate predecessors of Cyrus, the first of which was a Mede, and the second was his son: the second was Darius the Mede, the immediate predecessor of Cyrus, according to Daniel; and therefore the first was the father of Darius, that is, Achsuerus, Assuerus, Oxyares, Axeres, Prince Axeres, or Cy-Axeres, the word Cy signifying a Prince: for Daniel tells us, that Darius was the son of Achsuerus, or Ahasuerus, as the Masoretes erroneously call him, of the seed of the Medes, that is, of the seed royal: this is that Assuerus who together with Nebuchadnezzar took and destroyed Nineveh, according to Tobit: which action is by the Greeks ascribed to Cyaxeres, and by Eupolemus to Astibares, a name perhaps corruptly written for Assuerus. By this victory over the Assyrians, and subversion of their Empire seated at Nineveh, and the ensuing conquests of Armenia, Cappadocia and Persia, he began to extend the Reign of one man over all Asia; and his son Darius the Mede, by conquering the Kingdoms of Lydia and Babylon, finished the work: and the third King was Cyrus, a happy man for his great successes under and against Darius, and large and peaceable dominion in his own Reign.

Cyrus lived seventy years, according to Cicero, and Reigned nine years over Babylon, according to Ptolemy's Canon, and therefore was 61 years old at the taking of Babylon; at which time Darius the Mede was 62 years old, according to Daniel: and therefore Darius was two Generations younger than Astyages, the grandfather of Cyrus: for Astyages, according to both [401] Herodotus and Xenophon, gave his daughter Mandane to Cambyses a Prince of Persia, and by them became the grandfather of Cyrus; and Cyaxeres was the son of Astyages, according [402] to Xenophon, and gave his Daughter to Cyrus. This daughter, [403] saith Xenophon, was reported to be very handsome, and used to play with Cyrus when they were both children, and to say that she would marry him: and therefore they were much of the same age. Xenophon saith that Cyrus married her after the taking of Babylon; but she was then an old woman: it's more probable that he married her while she was young and handsome, and he a young man; and that because he was the brother-in-law of Darius the King, he led the armies of the Kingdom until he revolted: so then Astyages, Cyaxeres and Darius Reigned successively over the Medes; and Cyrus was the grandson of Astyages, and married the sister of Darius, and succeeded him in the Throne.

Herodotus therefore [404] hath inverted the order of the Kings Astyages and Cyaxeres, making Cyaxeres to be the son and successor of Phraortes, and the father and predecessor of Astyages the father of Mandane, and grandfather of Cyrus, and telling us, that this Astyages married Ariene the daughter of Alyattes King of Lydia, and was at length taken prisoner and deprived of his dominion by Cyrus: and Pausanias hath copied after Herodotus, in telling us that Astyages the son of Cyaxeres Reigned in Media in the days of Alyattes King of Lydia. Cyaxeres had a son who married Ariene the daughter of Alyattes; but this son was not the father of Mandane, and grandfather of Cyrus, but of the same age with Cyrus: and his true name is preserved in the name of the Darics, which upon the conquest of Crœsus by the conduct of his General Cyrus, he coyned out of the gold and silver of the conquered Lydians: his name was therefore Darius, as he is called by Daniel; for Daniel tells us, that this Darius was a Mede, and that his father's name was Assuerus, that is Axeres or Cyaxeres, as above: considering therefore that Cyaxeres Reigned long, and that no author mentions more Kings of Media than one called Astyages, and that Æschylus who lived in those days knew but of two great Monarchs of Media and Persia, the father and the son, older than Cyrus; it seems to me that Astyages, the father of Mandane and grandfather of Cyrus, was the father and predecessor of Cyaxeres; and that the son and successor of Cyaxeres was called Darius. Cyaxeres, [405] according to Herodotus, Reigned 40 years, and his successor 35, and Cyrus, according to Xenophon, seven: Cyrus died Anno Nabonass. 219, according to the Canon, and therefore Cyaxeres died Anno Nabonass. 177, and began his Reign Anno Nabonass. 137, and his father Astyages Reigned 26 years, beginning his Reign at the death of Phraortes, who was slain by the Assyrians, Anno Nabonass. 111, as above.

Of all the Kings of the Medes, Cyaxeres was greatest warrior. Herodotus [406] saith that he was much more valiant than his ancestors, and that he was the first who divided the Kingdom into provinces, and reduced the irregular and undisciplined forces of the Medes into discipline and order: and therefore by the testimony of Herodotus he was that King of the Medes whom Æschylus makes the first conqueror and founder of the Empire; for Herodotus represents him and his son to have been the two immediate predecessors of Cyrus, erring only in the name of the son. Astyages did nothing glorious: in the beginning of his Reign a great body of Scythians commanded by Madyes, [407] invaded Media and Parthia, as above, and Reigned there about 28 years; but at length his son Cyaxeres circumvented and slew them in a feast, and made the rest fly to their brethren in Parthia; and immediately after, in conjunction with Nebuchadnezzar, invaded and subverted the Kingdom of Assyria, and destroyed Nineveh.

In the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which the Jews reckon to be the first of Nebuchadnezzar, dating his Reign from his being made King by his father, or from the month Nisan preceding, when the victors had newly shared the Empire of the Assyrians, and in prosecuting their victory were invading Syria and Phœnicia, and were ready to invade the nations round about; God [408] threatned that he would take all the families of the North, that is, the armies of the Medes, and Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon, and bring them against Judæa and against the nations round about, and utterly destroy those nations, and make them an astonishment and lasting desolations, and cause them all to drink the wine-cup of his fury; and in particular, he names the Kings of Judah and Egypt, and those of Edom, and Moab, and Ammon, and Tyre, and Zidon, and the Isles of the Sea, and Arabia, and Zimri, and all the Kings of Elam, and all the Kings of the Medes, and all the Kings of the North, and the King of Sesac; and that after seventy years, he would also punish the King of Babylon. Here, in numbering the nations which should suffer, he omits the Assyrians as fallen already, and names the Kings of Elam or Persia, and Sesac or Susa, as distinct from those of the Medes and Babylonians; and therefore the Persians were not yet subdued by the Medes, nor the King of Susa by the Chaldæans; and as by the punishment of the King of Babylon he means the conquest of Babylon by the Medes; so by the punishment of the Medes he seems to mean the conquest of the Medes by Cyrus.

After this, in the beginning of the Reign of Zedekiah, that is, in the ninth year of Nebuchadnezzar, God threatned that he would give the Kingdoms of Edom, Moab, and Ammon, and Tyre and Zidon, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, and that all the nations should serve him, and his son, and his son's son until the very time of his land should come, and many nations and great Kings should serve themselves of him, Jer. xxvii. And at the same time God thus predicted the approaching conquest of the Persians by the Medes and their confederates: Behold, saith he, I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of their might: and upon Elam will I bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and will scatter them towards all those winds, and there shall be no nation whither the outcasts of Elam shall not come: for I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life; and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the Lord; and I will send the sword after them 'till I have consumed them; and I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the King and the Princes, saith the Lord: but it shall come to pass in the latter days, viz. in the Reign of Cyrus, that I will bring again the captivity of Elam, saith the Lord. Jer. xlix. 35, &c. The Persians were therefore hitherto a free nation under their own King, but soon after this were invaded, subdued, captivated, and dispersed into the nations round about, and continued in servitude until the Reign of Cyrus: and since the Medes and Chaldæans did not conquer the Persians 'till after the ninth year of Nebuchadnezzar, it gives us occasion to enquire what that active warrior Cyaxeres was doing next after the taking of Nineveh.

When Cyaxeres expelled the Scythians, [409] some of them made their peace with him, and staid in Media, and presented to him daily some of the venison which they took in hunting: but happening one day to catch nothing, Cyaxeres in a passion treated them with opprobrious language: this they resented, and soon after killed one of the children of the Medes, dressed it like venison, and presented it to Cyaxeres, and then fled to Alyattes King of Lydia; whence followed a war of five years between the two Kings Cyaxeres and Alyattes: and thence I gather that the Kingdoms of the Medes and Lydians were now contiguous, and by consequence that Cyaxeres, soon after the conquest of Nineveh, seized the regions belonging to the Assyrians, as far as to the river Halys. In the sixth year of this war, in the midst of a battel between the two Kings, there was a total Eclipse of the Sun, predicted by Thales; [410] and this Eclipse fell upon the 28th of May, Anno Nabonass. 163, forty and seven years before the taking of Babylon, and put an end to the battel: and thereupon the two Kings made peace by the mediation of Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, and Syennesis King of Cilicia; and the peace was ratified by a marriage, between Darius the son of Cyaxeres and Ariene the daughter of Alyattes: Darius was therefore fifteen or sixteen years old at the time of this marriage; for he was 62 years old at the taking of Babylon.

In the eleventh year of Zedekiah's Reign, the year in which Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, Ezekiel comparing the Kingdoms of the East to trees in the garden of Eden, thus mentions their being conquered by the Kings of the Medes and Chaldæans: Behold, saith he, the Assyrian was a Cedar in Lebanon with fair branches,—his height was exalted above all the trees of the field,—and under his shadow dwelt all great nations,—not any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty:—but I have delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen,—I made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to the grave with them that descend into the pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choice and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, shall be comforted in the nether parts of the earth: they also went down into the grave with him, unto them that be slain with the sword, and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen, Ezek. xxxi.

The next year Ezekiel, in another prophesy, thus enumerates the principal nations who had been subdued and slaughtered by the conquering sword of Cyaxeres and Nebuchadnezzar. Asthur is there and all her company, viz. in Hades or the lower parts of the earth, where the dead bodies lay buried, his graves are about him; all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which caused their terrour in the land of the living. There is Elam, and all her multitude round about her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, which are gone down uncircumcised into the nether parts of the earth, which caused their terrour in the land of the living: yet have they born their shame with them that go down into the pit.—There is Meshech, Tubal, and all her multitude [411]; her graves are round about him: all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though they caused their terrour in the land of the living.—There is Edom, her Kings, and all her Princes, which with their might are laid by them that were slain by the sword.—There be the Princes of the North all of them, and all the Zidonians, which with their terrour are gone down with the slain, Ezek. xxxii. Here by the Princes of the North I understand those on the north of Judæa, and chiefly the Princes of Armenia and Cappadocia, who fell in the wars which Cyaxeres made in reducing those countries after the taking of Nineveh. Elam or Persia was conquered by the Medes, and Susiana by the Babylonians, after the ninth, and before the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar: and therefore we cannot err much if we place these conquests in the twelfth or fourteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar: in the nineteenth, twentieth, and one and twentieth year of this King, he invaded and [412] conquered Judæa, Moab, Ammon, Edom, the Philistims and Zidon; and [413] the next year he besieged Tyre, and after a siege of thirteen years he took it, in the 35th year of his Reign; and then he [414] invaded and conquered Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya; and about eighteen or twenty years after the death of this King, Darius the Mede conquered the Kingdom of Sardes; and after five or six years more he invaded and conquered the Empire of Babylon: and thereby finished the work of propagating the Medo-Persian Monarchy over all Asia, as Æschylus represents.

Now this is that Darius who coined a great number of pieces of pure gold called Darics, or Stateres Darici: for Suidas, Harpocration, and the Scholiast of Aristophanes> [415] tell us, that these were coined not by the father of Xerxes, but by an earlier Darius, by Darius the first, by the first King of the Medes and Persians who coined gold money. They were stamped on one side with the effigies of an Archer, who was crowned with a spiked crown, had a bow in his left hand, and an arrow in his right, and was cloathed with a long robe; I have seen one of them in gold, and another in silver: they were of the same weight and value with the Attic Stater or piece of gold money weighing two Attic drachms. Darius seems to have learnt the art and use of money from the conquered Kingdom of the Lydians, and to have recoined their gold: for the Medes, before they conquered the Lydians, had no money. Herodotus [416] tells us, that when Crœsus was preparing to invade Cyrus, a certain Lydian called Sandanis advised him, that he was preparing an expedition against a nation who were cloathed with leathern breeches, who eat not such victuals as they would, but such as their barren country afforded; who drank no wine, but water only, who eat no figs nor other good meat, who had nothing to lose, but might get much from the Lydians: for the Persians, saith Herodotus, before they conquered the Lydians, had nothing rich or valuable: and [417] Isaiah tells us, that the Medes regarded not silver, nor delighted in gold; but the Lydians and Phrygians were exceeding rich, even to a proverb: Midas & Crœsus, saith [418] Pliny, infinitum possederant. Jam Cyrus devicta Asia [auri] pondo xxxiv millia invenerat, præter vasa aurea aurumque factum, & in eo folia ac platanum vitemque. Qua victoria argenti quingenta millia talentorum reportavit, & craterem Semiramidis cujus pondus quindecim talentorum colligebat. Talentum autem Ægyptium pondo octoginta capere Varro tradit. What the conqueror did with all this gold and silver appears by the Darics. The Lydians, according to [419] Herodotus, were the first who coined gold and silver, and Crœsus coined gold monies in plenty, called Crœsei; and it was not reasonable that the monies of the Kings of Lydia should continue current after the overthrow of their Kingdom, and therefore Darius recoined it with his own effigies, but without altering the current weight and value: he Reigned then from before the conquest of Sardes 'till after the conquest of Babylon.

And since the cup of Semiramis was preserved 'till the conquest of Crœsus by Darius, it is not probable that she could be older than is represented by Herodotus.

This conquest of the Kingdom of Lydia put the Greeks into fear of the Medes: for Theognis, who lived at Megara in the very times of these wars, writes thus, [420]

Πινωμεν, χαριεντα μετ' αλληλοισι λεγοντες,
Μηδεν τον Μηδων δειδιοτες πολεμον.

Let us drink, talking pleasant things with one another,
Not fearing the war of the Medes.

And again,

Αυτος δε στρατον ‛υβριστην Μηδων απερυκε
Τησδε πολευς, ‛ινα σοι λαοι εν ευφροσυνηι
Ηρος επερχομενου κλειτας πεμπωσ' ‛εκατομβας,
Τερπομενοι κιθαρη και ερατηι θαλιηι,
Παιανωντε χοροις, ιαχωσι τε, σον περι βωμον.
Η γαρ εγωγε δεδοικ', αφραδιην εσορων
Και στασιν ‛Ελληνων λαοφθορον· αλλα συ Φοιβε,
‛Ιλαος ‛ημετερην τηνδε φυλασσε πολιν.

Thou Apollo drive away the injurious army of the Medes
From this city, that the people may with joy
Send thee choice hecatombs in the spring,
Delighted with the harp and chearful feasting,
And chorus's of Pœans and acclamations about thy altar.
For truly I am afraid, beholding the folly
And sedition of the Greeks, which corrupts the people: but thou Apollo,
Being propitious, keep this our city.

The Poet tells us further that discord had destroyed Magnesia, Colophon, and Smyrna, cities of Ionia and Phrygia, and would destroy the Greeks; which is as much as to say that the Medes had then conquered those cities.

The Medes therefore Reigned 'till the taking of Sardes: and further, according to Xenophon and the Scriptures, they Reigned 'till the taking of Babylon: for Xenophon [422] tells us, that after the taking of Babylon, Cyrus went to the King of the Medes at Ecbatane and succeeded him in the Kingdom: and Jerom, [423] that Babylon was taken by Darius King of the Medes and his kinsman Cyrus: and the Scriptures tell us, that Babylon was destroyed by a nation out of the north, Jerem. l. 3, 9, 41. by the Kingdoms of Ararat Minni, or Armenia, and Ashchenez, or Phrygia minor, Jer. li. 27. by the Medes, Isa. xiii. 17, 19. by the Kings of the Medes and the captains and rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion, Jer. li. 11, 28. The Kingdom of Babylon was numbred and finished and broken and given to the Medes and Persians, Dan. v. 26. 28. first to the Medes under Darius, and then to the Persians under Cyrus: for Darius Reigned over Babylon like a conqueror, not observing the laws of the Babylonians, but introducing the immutable laws of the conquering nations, the Medes and Persians, Dan. vi. 8, 12, 15; and the Medes in his Reign are set before the Persians, Dan. ib. & v. 28, & viii. 20. as the Persians were afterwards in the Reign of Cyrus and his successors set before the Medes, Esther i. 3, 14, 18, 19. Dan. x. 1, 20. and xi. 2. which shews that in the Reign of Darius the Medes were uppermost.

You may know also by the great number of provinces in the Kingdom of Darius, that he was King of the Medes and Persians: for upon the conquest of Babylon, he set over the whole Kingdom an hundred and twenty Princes, Dan. vi. 1. and afterwards when Cambyses and Darius Hystaspis had added some new territories, the whole contained but 127 provinces.

The extent of the Babylonian Empire was much the same with that of Nineveh after the revolt of the Medes. Berosus saith that Nebuchadnezzar held Egypt, Syria, Phœnicia and Arabia: and Strabo adds Arbela to the territories of Babylon; and saying that Babylon was anciently the metropolis of Assyria, he thus describes the limits of this Assyrian Empire. Contiguous, [424] saith he, to Persia and Susiana are the Assyrians: for so they call Babylonia, and the greatest part of the region about it: part of which is Arturia, wherein is Ninus [or Nineveh;] and Apolloniatis, and the Elymæans, and the Parætacæ, and Chalonitis by the mountain Zagrus, and the fields near Ninus, and Dolomene, and Chalachene, and Chazene, and Adiabene, and the nations of Mesopotamia near the Gordyæans, and the Mygdones about Nisibis, unto Zeugma upon Euphrates; and a large region on this side Euphrates inhabited by the Arabians and Syrians properly so called, as far as Cilicia and Phœnicia and Libya and the sea of Egypt and the Sinus Issicus: and a little after describing the extent of the Babylonian region, he bounds it on the north, with the Armenians and Medes unto the mountain Zagrus; on the east side, with Susa and Elymais and Parætacene, inclusively; on the south, with the Persian Gulph and Chaldæa; and on the west, with the Arabes Scenitæ as far as Adiabene and Gordyæa: afterwards speaking of Susiana and Sitacene, a region between Babylon and Susa, and of Parætacene and Cossæa and Elymais, and of the Sagapeni and Siloceni, two little adjoining Provinces, he concludes, [425] and these are the nations which inhabit Babylonia eastward: to the north are Media and Armenia, exclusively, and westward are Adiabene and Mesopotamia, inclusively; the greatest part of Adiabene is plain, the same being part of Babylonia: in same places it borders on Armenia: for the Medes, Armenians and Babylonians warred frequently on one another. Thus far Strabo.

When Cyrus took Babylon, he changed the Kingdom into a Satrapy or Province: whereby the bounds were long after known: and by this means Herodotus [426] gives us an estimate of the bigness of this Monarchy in proportion to that of the Persians, telling us that whilst every region over which the King of Persia Reigned in his days, was distributed for the nourishment of his army, besides the tributes, the Babylonian region nourished him four months of the twelve in the year, and all the rest of Asia eight: so the power of the region, saith he, is equivalent to the third part of Asia, and its Principality, which the Persians call a Satrapy, is far the best of all the Provinces.

Babylon [427] was a square city of 120 furlongs, or 15 miles on every side, compassed first with a broad and deep ditch, and then with a wall fifty cubits thick, and two hundred high. Euphrates flowed through the middle of it southward, a few leagues on this side Tigris: and in the middle of one half westward stood the King's new Palace, built by Nebuchadnezzar; and in the middle of the other half stood the Temple of Belus, with the old Palace between that Temple and the river: this old Palace was built by the Assyrians, according to [428] Isaiah, and by consequence, by Pul and his son Nabonassar, as above: they founded the city for the Arabians, and set up the towers thereof, and raised the Palaces thereof: and at that time Sabacon the Ethiopian invaded Egypt, and made great multitudes of Egyptians fly from him into Chaldæa, and carry thither their Astronomy, and Astrology, and Architecture, and the form of their year, which they preserved there in the Æra of Nabonassar: for the practice of observing the Stars began in Egypt in the days of Ammon, as above, and was propagated from thence in the Reign of his son Sesac into Afric, Europe, and Asia by conquest; and then Atlas formed the Sphere of the Libyans, and Chiron that of the Greeks, and the Chaldæans also made a Sphere of their own. But Astrology was invented in Egypt by Nichepsos, or Necepsos, one of the Kings of the lower Egypt, and Petosiris his Priest, a little before the days of Sabacon, and propagated thence into Chaldæa, where Zoroaster the Legislator of the Magi met with it: so Paulinus,

Quique magos docuit mysteria vana Necepsos:

And Diodorus, [429] they say that the Chaldæans in Babylonia are colonies of the Egyptians, and being taught by the Priests of Egypt became famous for Astrology. By the influence of the same colonies, the Temple of Jupiter Belus in Babylon seems to have been erected in the form of the Egyptian Pyramids: for [430] this Temple was a solid Tower or Pyramid a furlong square, and a furlong high, with seven retractions, which made it appear like eight towers standing upon one another, and growing less and less to the top: and in the eighth tower was a Temple with a bed and a golden table, kept by a woman, after the manner of the Egyptians in the Temple of Jupiter Ammon at Thebes; and above the Temple was a place for observing the Stars: they went up to the top of it by steps on the outside, and the bottom was compassed with a court, and the court with a building two furlongs in length on every side.

The Babylonians were extreamly addicted to Sorcery, Inchantments, Astrology and Divinations, Isa. xlvii. 9, 12, 13. Dan. ii. 2, & v. 11. and to the worship of Idols, Jer. l. 2, 40. and to feasting, wine and women. Nihil urbis ejus corruptius moribus, nec ad irritandas illiciendasque immodicas voluptates instructius. Liberos conjugesque cum hospitibus stupro coire, modo pretium flagitii detur, parentes maritique patiuntur. Convivales ludi tota Perside regibus purpuratisque cordi sunt: Babylonii maxime in vinum & quæ ebrietatem sequuntur effusi sunt. Fæminarum convivia ineuntium in principio modestus est habitus; dein summa quæque amicula exuunt, paulatimque pudorem profanant: ad ultimum, honos auribus sit, ima corporum velamenta projiciunt. Nec meretricum hoc dedecus est, sed matronarum virginumque, apud quas comitas habetur vulgati corporis vilitas. Q. Curtius, lib. v. cap. 1. And this lewdness of their women, coloured over with the name of civility, was encouraged even by their religion: for it was the custom for their women once in their life to sit in the Temple of Venus for the use of strangers; which Temple they called Succoth Benoth, the Temple of Women: and when any woman was once sat there, she was not to depart 'till some stranger threw money into her bosom, took her away and lay with her; and the money being for sacred uses, she was obliged to accept of it how little soever, and follow the stranger.

The Persians being conquered by the Medes about the middle of the Reign of Zedekiah, continued in subjection under them 'till the end of the Reign of Darius the Mede: and Cyrus, who was of the Royal Family of the Persians, might be Satrapa of Persia, and command a body of their forces under Darius; but was not yet an absolute and independant King: but after the taking of Babylon, when he had a victorious army at his devotion, and Darius was returned from Babylon into Media, he revolted from Darius, in conjunction with the Persians under him; [431] they being incited thereunto by Harpagus a Mede, whom Xenophon calls Artagerses and Atabazus, and who had assisted Cyrus in conquering Crœsus and Asia minor, and had been injured by Darius. Harpagus was sent by Darius with an army against Cyrus, and in the midst of a battel revolted with part of the army to Cyrus: Darius got up a fresh army, and the next year the two armies fought again: this last battel was fought at Pasargadæ in Persia, according to [432] Strabo; and there Darius was beaten and taken Prisoner by Cyrus, and the Monarchy was by this victory translated to the Persians. The last King of the Medes is by Xenophon called Cyaxares, and by Herodotus, Astyages the father of Mandane: but these Kings were dead before, and Daniel lets us know that Darius was the true name of the last King, and Herodotus, [433] that the last King was conquered by Cyrus in the manner above described; and the Darics coined by the last King testify that his name was Darius.

This victory over Darius was about two years after the taking of Babylon: for the Reign or Nabonnedus the last King of the Chaldees, whom Josephus calls Naboandel and Belshazzar, ended in the year of Nabonassar 210, nine years before the death of Cyrus, according to the Canon: but after the translation of the Kingdom of the Medes to the Persians, Cyrus Reigned only seven years, according to [434] Xenophon; and spending the seven winter months yearly at Babylon, the three spring months yearly at Susa, and the two Summer months at Ecbatane, he came the seventh time into Persia, and died there in the spring, and was buried at Pasargadae. By the Canon and the common consent of all Chronologers, he died in the year of Nabonassar 219, and therefore conquered Darius in the year of Nabonassar 212, seventy and two years after the destruction of Nineveh, and beat him the first time in the year of Nabonassar 211, and revolted from him, and became King of the Persians, either the same year, or in the end of the year before. At his death he was seventy years old according to Herodotus, and therefore he was born in the year of Nabonassar 149, his mother Mandane being the sister of Cyaxeres, at that time a young man, and also the sister of Amyite the wife of Nebuchadnezzar, and his father Cambyses being of the old Royal Family of the Persians.

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