Page images
PDF
EPUB

fect encyclopædia, as he describes them, of Assyrian science. The deciphering of these has progressed more slowly than was expected. But from the inscriptions, so far as they have been interpreted by the skill of Rawlinson, Hinckes, and others, we learn, that in the beginning of the Hamitic kingdom several cities were built in Chaldæa, among which the cities mentioned in the tenth chapter of Genesis are easily recognised and identified. They have discovered, among others, the cities of Babylon, of Warka, of Accad, and Niffer, which are readily identified with the Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, named in Genesis as the beginning of the Hamitic kingdom founded by Nimrod. From these inscriptions we also know that the Assyrian empire of later growth, and situate to the north-east of Chaldæa, comprised four cities, as stated in Genesis, of which the exhumed Nineveh was the chief; and whose mysterious and imposing sculptures, roused from their sleep of centuries by the enterprise of European travellers, now exhibit in London, the great metropolis of the West, the ornaments and luxuries of the temples and palaces of the earliest monarchs of the world in the East.

From the same inscriptions we also learn, that at a very early period of the Chaldæan empire the Shemites gained ascendancy; and that ultimately, about 1500 B.C., ancient Chaldæa sank under Assyrian and Arabian influences, and became semitised. The Hamitic language fell into disuse, and the inhabitants were no longer to be distinguished from the descendants of Shem.

The language of the Nineveh inscriptions is Semitic, and the aspect of the Ninevites on their sculptures is unmistakably Jewish. Ages have swept over the land and the people; but the carved marbles and their inscriptions remain to testify that the lineaments and language of the ancient Ninevite were the same as those of their kinsmen, the children of Abraham, in the present day.

This amalgamation of the Hamite with the Shemite, and the obliteration of the dynasty and language of the former, are remarkably consistent with the Scripture record; for we are told that Canaan, a descendant of Ham, was to be a servant of servants to the Shemites; and in the Mosaic history of Nimrod's kingdom, it is stated, that ‘from that land (Shinar) went forth Asshur (the son of Shem) and builded Nineveh.' Their languages could not have differed so radically as the languages of Shem and Japhet ; for the family of the Shemite Abraham dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees, and Abraham and his descendants spoke a language that was intelligible to the Canaanite descendants of Ham. There was obviously a similarity of language and community of territory between the Shemite and Hamite, that never existed between either of them and the Japhetite, and which eventuated in the subjugation and disappearance of the Hamite as predicted by Noah, and now confirmed by the relics of Babylon and Nineveh.

A long list of Chaldæan monarchs has been traced by means of these inscriptions on the bricks and tablets, one of the earliest of which is named Urukh, who styles himself the King of Ur and Accad, both of which places are mentioned in Genesis—the one as · Ur of the Chaldees,' from which Abraham's family went forth into the land of Canaan; and the other is one of the four cities built by Nimrod in the land of Shinar, in the beginning of his kingdom. Thus, in the very dust and rubbish of Shinar, we find testimonies to the truth and authenticity of the Bible record.

The bricks of Urukh are found in the basement platforms of all the most ancient buildings, the architecture of which is coarse and primitive as compared with those, evidently of a later date, in the same place, evincing a rude commencement and rapid progress of culture and civilisation in these first-born cities of the earth.

Various circumstances show that Urukh's reign must have occurred about the year 1976 B.C. Nimrod's reign was of an earlier date; and though not found inscribed on any of the bricks or tablets, his name and fame are written, as it were, on the face of the country, and live in the traditional memories and mouths of the inhabitants, by whose forefathers he was deified and worshipped as a god, under the title of Bel Nimroud, the God of the Chase. All the most remarkable of the mounds and ruins in Mesopotamia are called after him; and the early Chaldæans, who are renowned for their proficiency in astronomy, placed him in the heavens as the constellation Orion, styled Jabbar,' which is the epithet applied to Nimrod in Genesis ; and by modern Chaldæans his name is always mentioned with awe and reverence. He was, beyond doubt, among the foremost men of antiquity; and his name had passed into a proverb as early as the days of Moses, who adds concerning him, · Wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.'

So far tradition, and the recently discovered inscriptions exhumed from the buried cities of Shinar, confirm the Scripture history of the site and founder of the extinct Hamitic kingdom of Babylon, the beginning of which, according to the Mosaic record, was between 2200 and 2300 B.C. Here, again, we have the Scripture date wonderfully confirmed by extrinsic evidence. For a number of Greek traditions, wholly independent of Scripture authority, unite in assigning to the Chaldæan kingdom an antiquity that strangely accords with the Scriptural date of the same event. Berosus, the native historian, wrote about 336

His works have been lost; but his scheme of chronology, preserved in the writings of subsequent authors, and expounded by the ingenuity of a German writer, M. Goldschmidt, fixes the commencement of the Chaldæan dynasty about the year 2234 B.C. In Rawlinson's - Ancient Monarchies,' where much learning on this subject is found, it is stated, in a note, that Simplicius relates that Callisthenes, the friend of Alexander the Great, sent to Aristotle from Babylon a series of stellar observations made in that city, which reached back 1903 years before that time, which was 331 B.C. Adding these numbers together (331+1903) they give us 2234 B.C., the same date as that of Berosus, and nearly the same as that of Moses. Again, Philo-Biblius has recorded that Babylon was built 1002 years before Semiramis, whom he con

B.C.

sidered to have been contemporary with, or a little anterior to, the Trojan War, the date of which is generally supposed to have been about 1218 B.C. Adding these numbers together (1002+1218), the date of the building of Babylon must have been about 2220 B.C., or a little earlier. Further, Berosus and Artidemus are reported by Pliny to have declared that the Babylonians had recorded their stellar observations on bricks for 480 years before the era of Phoronæus, which, according to Clinton, was 1753 B.C. These numbers added together give us 2233 B.C.

Thus all the evidence derived from profane historians, traditions, and monumental remains of Babylonia and Assyria, conspire to establish the truth of the Mosaic record of the Hamite kingdom. The site, the founder, and the date, as recorded by Moses, are confirmed by the independent testimony of those who knew not, and cared not for, Moses. They tell us, that here in Mesopotamia, the land of Shinar, and in the twenty-third century before Christ, was the beginning of the Chaldæan dynasty, whose principal cities were Babel, Warka, Accad, and Niffer, which was afterwards extended into Assyria, and became merged in the Semitic dynasty. According to Moses, “the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh ;' and out of that kingdom went Asshur (the Shemite), and builded Nineveh and other cities.

Those of the Hamites who went down into Egypt and obtained rule in that land, where they were known as the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, were, according to Manetho, the Egyptian historian, expelled

« PreviousContinue »