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The religious reaction for a time secured its privileges, but when the
military party once more gained control under Sennacherib, we find,


Yet, in spite of his religious tendencies, Sargon was a
great warrior, and indeed the greater part of his recorded
history consists of a series of wars. No doubt there were
pressing questions of home policy, perhaps even there were
revolts, though we hear of none. But, as is always clear to
a usurper, the best way of settling questions of legitimacy is
by leading the nation to victory in foreign wars. Nor was
it mere lust of conquest or needs of home policy which kept
the armies of Satgon in the field year after year. During
the half century of Assyrian weakness new powers had come
into being, and now Assyria was surrounded by a ring of
hostile states, any one of which was not an enemy to be
despised, while a union such as afterwards brought about
the fall of the empire was even now an imminent peril.

On the south border little was to be feared from the
Babylonians, who had been rendered unwarlike by their long
civilization. But here as elsewhere there had been a gradual
inworking of Arab tribes of whom the Kaldu or Chaldaeans
were the most important.^^ Under Babylonian influence
they had gained a certain veneer of civilization. Their
leader was now a certain Merodach Baladan (Marduk aplu
iddin),^ whose name shows his Babylonian leanings. Al-

in 68s, a governor of Harran, 80-7-19, 53 = J. 274. But Johns, /. c,
is clearly wrong when he states that " it was the constitution of Ashur
and Harran that Sargon extended to the northern cities of Babylonia,"
for in Rp. i-io on which he seems to rely, the order is badly muddled
and can not be used as a basis for argument. Reference to the longer
and better accounts gives a more original order. Under no circum-
stances may we take the reference in in Rp. 5, 7, 8 to be to the cities
in 3.

** For the Aramaean invasions cf., e. g., Winckler, in Helmolt, His-
tory of the World, III. 21 /.

^ Isaiah 39^ is correct in calling him Merodach Baladan, The form
Berodach Baladan of II Kings 20" is a mere textual error. In the
Ptolemaic Canon, he is called Mardokempades. Berossus seems to be
the authority for the passage of Alexander Polyhistor quoted by



ready, in 731, he had come into contact with Tiglath Pileser
and had been forced to pay tribute.^^ During the weaker
reign of Shalmaneser he had extended his power from his
home land in Bit lakin,^^ in the marshes of the Tigris and
Euphrates, and had won the confidence of the Babylonians.
When, therefore, Sargon usurped the Assyrian throne,
Merodach Baladan was in a position to grasp his oppor-
tunity. Babylon surrendered, and soon after, on the New
Year's Day (April 2), 721, he "seized the hands of Bel,"
was recognized as the de jure king of the South, and took
the titles of " King of Babylon " and " King of Shumer
and Akkad."^^ The natives seem to have welcomed him

Eusebius, Chron., ed. Schone, I. 27. He knows only the short second
reign of Marodach Baldanus in the time of Senecheribus. I do not
think he is the Babada of Berossus, Frag. 13 = Jos. Ant. X. 2. 2.

^''Nimrud, Clay Tablet, 26.

'^ In Bit lakin, the masculine determinative is always used before
lakin. In A. 228, 315, D. 122 Merodach Baladan is even called a son
of lakin. Whether lakin is a historical personage, Sayce, art. Merodach
Baladan, in Hasting's Bible Dictionary, is not certain but cf. the use of
Omri in Bit Humri. The land is Bit lakin, the capital Dur lakin, see
further Chap. VII. n. 53.

^^ Sargon ascended the throne in Tebet while the reign of Merodach
Baladan is officially dated from Nisan. Maspero, Empires, 222, repre-
sents this as a period of suspense in which Babylon waited to see if
Sargon would favor that city as much as his predecessors. But Sargon
later showed himself very favorable to that city and there is no reason
to suppose a change of attitude during that time. Furthermore, there
is no mention of a revolt in the Bab. Chron., cf. Winckler, Zeitschr.
f. Assyr., 1887, 303. Maspero has simply failed to notice that, what-
ever the time he actually came to the throne, his accession would be
dated from the following first of Nisan or New Year's Day when he
" seized the hands of Bel " and became de jure king of Babylon. Ac-
cording to the Babylonian king list, published Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch.,
1884, 197, Merodach Baladan was a member of the Tamdim or ninth
dynasty and ruled twelve years. This would make his accession 721.
The Canon of Ptolemy also gives twelve years. A further clue to the
chronology is furnished by the eclipses of the moon mentioned in


as a deliverer from the Assyrian yoke, at any rate there cer-
tainly was a strong pro-Chaldaean party in the city.^^

Merodach Baladan was supported, not only by the various
Aramaean tribes but also by Humbanigash of Elam. Al-
liance with Elam had long been a fundamental article in the
policy of Babylonia. In earlier times that country had had a
long and important career, often at the expense of Babylon.
Of late it had been miuch weakened, the history becomes ob-
scure, and even the succession of kings is lost. A new era
began with the accession of Humbanigash in 742 B. C.^*
The earlier years of his reign seem to have been spent in
reducing to order the feudal princes who so regularly weak-
ened the country. There was peace with Assyria, for a long
line of Aramaic buffer states protected Elam from her more
powerful neighbor. But Tiglath Pileser conquered and
incorporated these states, while he also obtained personal
rule in Babylon. This brought Elam into great danger.
The Chaldaean conquest of Babylon must greatly weaken
Assyria and protect a considerable stretch of Elamitish
border from Assyrian attack. We can therefore see why
Humbanigash preferred to fight his battles for Elam on the
plains of Babylonia.

The situation in regard to Elam was further complicated
by the Median tribes which were gradually working their

Ptolemy's Almagest, IV. 5. They are said to have taken place on the
29/30 of Thoth of the first year and the 18/19 Thoth and 15/16
Phamenoth of the second of Mardokerapades. According to F. Ginzel,
Sitzungsher. of Vienna Academy, 1884 (89), II. 537 and E. v. Haerdtl,
Denkschriften of the same, 1885 (49), 194, they are to be assigned to
March 19, 720, and March 8 and September i, 719, these astronomical
dates being, of course, one year later than those commonly in use.
For the titles of Merodach Baladan, see the boundary inscription.

'^ This is shown by the references in the boundary inscription to the
sufferings of the pro-Chaldaean party at the hands of the Assyrians.

^ Bab. Chron. I. 9.


way in from the east, and, like the Aramaeans, were warring
against Elam and Assyria alike. As yet, the danger was
not serious. A force was constantly engaged on the borders
and now and then we hear of the conquest of some petty
tribe. Already Iranian and Aramaean were meeting at the
Zab, as Hun and Saracen later met in Central Europe.

Reaching in a great arc from northeast to northwest
were the provinces and dependencies of the empire which, in
the half century of Assyrian decline, had become the most
powerful in Western Asia. Coming down from the region
of the Caucasus, the Haldians had gradually forced their
way south until, in the reign of Ashur nagir pal, they had
come into touch with the Assyrians. For a time they were
held in check, but as Assyria began to decline, Haldia won
and held the supremacy of the civilized world under the
vigorous rule of Menuash and Argishtish I. When the
Assyrian power once more revived under Tiglath Pileser
III, Sardurish II, the successor of Argishtish, held all of
Armenia, Western Mesopotamia, Western Asia Minor, and
North Syria more or less completely under his control.^**
To be sure, all this extent of territory was rather imposing
than effective, for time enough had not been allowed for a
real amalgamation, yet the pro-Haldian party was strong
and a severe struggle was needed to drive Sardurish out of
Syria. Tiglath Pileser followed this up with an invasion of
Haldia itself but, although the capital, Tushpa, was taken
and burned, Sardurish held out on the high isolated rock
which forms the citadel of Van, and the Assyrians were
forced to retreat as winter came on.^^

" The Sardurish of inscriptions 1-3 of Belck and Lehmann is clearly
the Seduri of the account of Shalmaneser II. I have therefore counted
the opponent of Tiglath Pileser as Sardurish II.

** For a general sketch of Haldian history, and a bibliography, see the
New International Encyclopedia, art. Chaldians. I have used the form,


When a new ruler, Rusash, son of Sardurish, or Ursa, as
Sargon calls him, ascended the throne, some time about
725,2^ the imperial position of Haldia had been largely
lost. The new monarch, as events quickly showed,
was well adapted to restore the lost prestige of his
people. His first care seems to have been the restora-
tion of the ruined city. The older town, Menuahina,
founded by Menuash, the greatest of the Haldian builders,
had been completely destroyed. Rusash rebuilt it, not on
the old site, but further north where we now have Toprak
Kaleh, and called is Rusahina. Since the water of Lake
Van is not potable, he constructed, far to the east among the
barren and desert wastes, where his inscription has been
found, an immense reservoir, now known as Keshish Goll,
or Priests' Sea.^^ At Van^^ and at Aluchalu, oh Lake
Gokcha,*^ temples were also erected to Teishbash, the storm
and air god.

Haldia, derived from the god Haldish in preference to the Assyrian
form Urartu, the Hebrew Ararat. In the official inscriptions, Urartu is
always spelled phonetically but in the letters is given as Urtu (ki), the
same sign being used as for Akkad, Briinnow 7309. The use of Urte in
the Haldian inscription, Sayce LXXXH, seems to show that Urartu was a
foreign word and was only later applied to the Haldians. For the
survival of the Haldians as Chaldoi or Chaldaioi in Greek and Byzantine
literature see an article by the author, Amer. Jour. Sent. Lit., 1901,
Rost, Mittheil. Vorderasiat. Gesellsch., 1897, 2, 74, compares the Uarutha
of Ptol. V. 12. 5.

^ Sargon's scribes call him Ursa and this name has hitherto been used
by scholars. In A. 58, 75 he is called Rusa and this agrees with the
native form Rusash. Brosset, Melanges Asiatiques, 7, 397 n." identifies
Rusash with the Hratchea of later Armenian tradition, Moses Chor-
enensis, I. 22 = p. 103 of the Venice, 1827 edition. It might be ob-
jected that he is there made a contemporary of Nabugodonosor (Nebu-
chadnezzar) ; but when later we are told that he is twenty-four years
before Senekerim (Sennacherib), we have his time well enough indi-
cated to make the suggestion very plausible.

^ For the inscription, see chap. I. n. 58.

'* The Teishbash Van inscription, see chap. I. n. 58.

*" See chap. I. n. 60.


The accession of a new and more vigorous ruler naturally
meant a more vigorous foreign policy. Scanty as our
sources are, we are still not left in entire ignorance of con-
ditions along the frontier. At Aluchalu, on Lake Gokcha,
and therefore well within present Russian territory, we have
an inscription.*^ Its very position shows a considerable ad-
vance to be probable. It also mentions twenty-four coun-
tries which had been conquered, although the vagueness of
our present geography gives us little clue to their location,"*^
whose inhabitants were carried off to Haldia. On the east,
a similar advance seems to be demanded by the sovereignty
of Mugaqir. On the west, however, where the earlier kings
had ruled as far as Melitene,*^ the boundary had been drawn
back, for at this time that place was ruled by an independent
prince.^* From the circumstances presupposed by Sargon's
frontier fortifications, we must assume that the Euphrates
was here the boundary.*^ On the south was the greatest
danger. Here the line ran a perilously short distance south
of the capital, which was thus exposed to raiding. But in
this matter of raiding the Haldians had the advantage, for
it was easy for a band of the mountaineers to rush down
upon some undefended spot in Assyria, while the heavier

" Cf. n. 40. ,

" These are Adahumish, Uelidash, Kumeruhish, Shiriquqinish, Lainish,
Ubimesh, Shamatuaish, Teriuisaish, Risuaish, Zuaish, Akuash, Amanaish,
Irquimaish, Elaish, Ereltuaish, Aidamaniush, Guriash, Alzirash, Piruaish,
Melaish, Usheduish, Atezaish, Eriaish, Azamerunis. Shiriquqinish is also
mentioned on Sayce LXXXII. According to Sayce, Jour. Roy. Asiat.
Sac, 1882, 399, Zuaish is Yazlu tash near Melasgert ; but he is doubtful
as to whether the Zuaish mentioned here is the same place. Guriaish, or,
as it is here in the accusative, Guriaini, at once makes us think of
Guriana of the epistolary literature and of the classical Guraina, cf.
chap. IV. n. 42.

"Argishtish I, Annals, II. 18.

"A. 183, etc.

Cf. chap. IV. n. 44.


armies of the latter would be under considerable difficulties,
if a return expedition was undertaken. Regular military
expeditions in this region were few and brief. The Hal-
dians had only to retire to their fortresses and allow the
enemy to ravage as he pleased, then, when the early winter
forced him to retreat, they issued forth, blocked the passes,
harrassed the rear, and often inflicted great damage.

The influence of Rusash must not be confined to the region
he ruled. With Merodach Baladan, with whom he may
have been allied,*^ he was the cause of almost every war
of the reign. Could these two be put out of the way, the
remaining conquests would not be difficult.

Back of the Haldians and no doubt already exerting pres-
sure on them, were other Iranian tribes. As yet, they seem
to'liave been unknown to the Assyrians. By the end of the
reign they would be known only too well. Had the Assy-
rians realized that in attacking and destroying the neighbor-
ing states they were but putting out of the way buffer states
whose loss would expose themselves to attack, they might
have hesitated. More probably it would not have changed

On the northwest frontier there was little danger, but
much inducement. Only one object blocked the way. Car-
chemish, a fragment of the old " Hittite " *^ power, held the
way to Syria and to Asia Minor and dominated the trade
route to the west. Mercantile as well as political reasons
were therefore demanding the removal of this eyesore to the
Assyrian merchants. Once Carchemish passed, there re-
mained only petty Hittite states to conquer. The way was
open to a re-conquest of those Asia Minor possessions held

"Professor N. Schmidt has long held this view.

" Whatever one may think of the " Hittite Empire," " Hittite " is a
convenient name to apply to this fairly homogeneous group of peoples.


in the earlier days of Assyrian greatness, to Pteria, the great
Hittite city, perhaps to the Black Sea itself. Of the power
which, under Midas of Phrygia, was rapidly conquering
Asia Minor, the Assyrians seem as yet to have known

Syria had been virtually brought under the control of
Assyria by Tiglath Pileser and a large addition to the im-
mediate territory of Assyria had been made when Shalma-
neser captured Samaria and brought the Israelitish kingdom
to its end. But the revolution at home had for the moment
weakened Assyrian influence in this region. Affairs in
Israel were still in a very unsettled condition. In Hamath
and in Gaza rulers of ability seemed about to unite Syria
against the Assyrians. In Judaea the young Hezekiah had
but recently come to the throne."*^ His religious reformation

*' We have no definite knowledge of the chronology of Kings save as
we can connect it with that of foreign nations. The whole scheme is
artificial, although tradition may have handed down a rough guess as to
the length or shortness of the reigns. We should naturally expect that
the correct lengths of the reigns might have been handed down, did not
the purely artificial character of the whole system and the failure to
agree with external chronology where tested forbid. If we make the
corrections which such external tests demand, we have a working chron-
ology which will do well enough ; for it will not be many years out of
the way, but it is not allowable to take such a chronology and assume
it to be at all exact. For the reign of Hezekiah, the only certain date
is 701, when Senacherib invaded Judah. According to H Kings 18^'
this took place in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, that is, his accession
was in 715. Yet three verses before, the capture of Samaria, 723, is
placed in Hezekiah's sixth year, that is, his accession took place in 729.
In the face of such chronology, we can only refuse to accept any part of
it. We can use, to secure an approximate date for his accession, only
general considerations. Uncertain as their results may be, they at least
do not rest on a thoroughly artificial and unreliable chronology. The
date of accession seems bound up with the question of that of Merodach
Baladan's embassy, for I do not see how the fact of such an embassy
can be denied. The present position of the account, at the end of the
events of the reign is easily explained. A passage which closes with


looked very much like a protest against the pro-Assyrian
religious policy of his father Ahaz,*^ and an embassy from
Merodach Baladan had just come to him urging revolt.^^
Egypt was recovering herself under Ethiopic hegemony
and had already interfered in the Samaria aflfair.^^ In
Arabia things were in a ferment as a result of the impending
change from Minaean to Sabaean overlordship,^^ while all
along its borders new swarms were pouring out and pressing
upon the civilized nations.^^

Such were the circumstances of the Assyrian neighbors,
and such were the problems presented to Sargon. On all
sides Assyria was hard pressed by nations less civilized

peace and truth enduring all his days would naturally make a fine close.
Actually, it must be placed near the beginning of the account of the
reign, for no one can doubt that all that part which deals with the in-
vasion of Sennacherib is later. But if early, why not at the very be-
ginning, say 721 ? Hezekiah ascended the throne young. He at once
began a religious reform which was to a certain extent anti-Assyrian
and in other ways, then or later, showed his desire for independence.
What more natural than that, at his own accession, the other, anti-
Assyrian party should come into control, especially if, about the same
time, there was a revolution in Assyria itself and if the troops which
had just taken Samaria were called home. Such a feeling of unrest
would be very natural at such a time and Merodach Baladan would
naturally send an embassy to strengthen the anti-Assyrian party. The
result, then, of all these causes, would be the revolt of 720 which, for
the time, seems to have practically ended Assyrian control of Syria.
A trace of this complicity of Hezekiah is probably to be seen in the
laudu of Nimrud 8 which is mentioned just before Hamath. To place
the embassy in the second reign of Merodach Baladan is difficult, for his
rule was short and insecure. This combination given, though not as
strong as I might wish, seems to me to meet the demands of the data
to be combined better than does any other.

n Kings 18* ff.

~ n Kings 20^2 ff^

" See a fuller discussion in the next chapter.

^^ See for a brief sketch, Winckler, in Helmolt, History of the World.
III. 248.

^Cf. n. 28.


than herself. It was impossible for Assyria to hold her
present frontiers, for only in a few cases were these " sci-
entific." Only by constant advances could enemies be put
out of the way, while each new advance meant a longer
frontier to guard, a larger mass of unassimilated peoples
within it, and a further depletion of the governing class.
The task was too great for so small a people and ultimate
failure was certain. Yet it was a great thing for civilization
that the barbarian peoples were held back until they had
more or less come under the influence of the Assyro-Baby-
lonian culture, and that the empire endured so long as it
did was due in no small measure to the hard fighting quali-
ties of Sargon.



Sargon ascended the throne at the very end of 722.^
What he did during the first year we do not know. In all
probability he was engaged in settling himself firmly on the
throne and in arranging the changes he found necessary
from his point of view.-

It was impossible for an Assyrian monarch to live
in peace. Even if he wished to do so, circumstances
were against him. So far as we know, the first col-
lision with a foreign power took place in Babylonia
some time in 720. Merodach Baladan, as soon as he was
safe in Babylon, had sent to Humbanigash for aid, and
now the Elamite was attempting to descend the Aft ab

* According to Haerdtl's tables, cf. chap. II, n. 32, Tebet must have
begun Dec. 6 and therefore the accession date, Tebet 22 was Dec. 28.
The formal first year of Sargon, beginning in Nisan, was April 2 to
March 22. This is of course on the assumption that a month was inter-
calated at the end of the accession year.

^ The Annals places the Merodach Baladan troubles in year I, 721,
and this has generally been accepted. But K. 1349, places it in year II,
720, apparently the very year in which the inscription itself was written.
The Bah. Chron., I. 33 dates these events in the second of Merodach
Baladan which means the same thing. Winckler, Forsch. 1. 402 n.,^ has
therefore rightly doubted it. A further indication of the untrustworthi-
ness of the Annals is of course the earlier and no doubt better chronol-
ogy of the Prisms. L. i of Rm. 2, 97 (722) has kar'\ru, the somewhat
obscure word which probably means either the destruction preparatory
to rebuilding or the restoration of a public edifice. L. 2; for 721, has
ilu X ana beti eshshi e'\tarah, "god X entered a new temple," the
natural result of the preceding line. It is curious that we have no
reference to the accession of Sargon or to his wars.



valley to join his ally. But Sargon still held Dur ilu, a
strong fortress which commanded that pass.^ When the
Elamites reached the plain they found an Assyrian army
drawn up to meet them. A battle took place and the
Assyrians were driven from the field, although they still
held Dur ilu.* The Assyrians retreated to the north, though
not so rapidly but that they could take vengeance on the
petty Aramaean tribes of the Mattisai and Tu'muna, whose
pro-Assyrian sheikh had been bound and sent to Babylon.'^
But now Merodach Baladan came up with his army and
united with Humbanigash, after which they ravaged the
nearby parts of Assyria.

A tactical victory had thus been won by the allies. The

' Dur ilu is Zirzir tepe at the mouth of the Aft ab valley according
to A. Billerbeck, Suleimania, 1898, 69, 97. We know that Sargon held
Dur ilu in his first and his eleventh years from the so called Sargon
Stone, F. E. Peiser, Keilinschriftliche Aden Stilcke, 1889, 6 ff.; extracts
in Keilinschr. Bibl., IV. 158 ff. Billerbeck, op. cit., 112, seems to think
that between these two dates Sargon lost and regained control of Dur
ilu, but there is no proof, and it is hardly probable. A. 228-235, though
under year XII, furnishes some information in regard to this period. A.
234 reads iqgura tahazu. This has been referred to a battle earlier
than Dur ilu by Winckler, Sargon, XVI. It is also, it would appear,
the basis of the statement of Billerbeck, Susa, 77, that a small Susian
army was sent to join a Babylonian corps in driving the Assyrians from
the Umliash region but was defeated in consequence of the non-arrival
of their allies. This passage is better explained by Tiele, Gesch., 258,
and the reason for such a battle disappears.

*Bah. Chron., I. 34 if. Sargon claims the victory, A. 19; XIV. 6 ;
N. 7; C. 17; D. 23; P. IV. 13; S. I. 27, but I have no doubt of the
Babylonian account being correct. For the retention of Dur ilu, see the
Sargon Stone.

** A. 20 if.; C. 18. The Mattisai are mentioned only in C. but their
connection with the Tu'muna makes it probable that they belong here.
The men were settled in Syria but this does not necessarily mean Israel,

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