James Frederick McCurdy.

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come. The apprehension excited in Nineveh by this new
enemy appearing where Assyria's hardest struggles had
always been waged was quite extraordinary. For one
hundred days the priests were bidden to sacrifice and pray
for their defeat. It would seem that the supplications were
answered, for it is apparently to the same critical juncture
that the Babylonian chronicler refers when he says of the
fourth year of Esarhaddon : " The Gimirre came into
Assyria, and in Assyria they were defeated." ^ The refer-
ence here, of course, is to the Assyrian territory in the
wider sense, which was held to extend northward to the
Lakes. Evidently the dreaded foe had come well over
the border. It is very improbable that the western division
of these undesirable immigrants came directly into contact
with the Assyrians under Esarhaddon." Their time for
action had not yet come. But they helped to make the
northwest provinces still more lax in their attachment to
the empire of the Tigris. On the whole, their significance
was rather premonitor}^ than direct and immediate. It is
plain that Esarhaddon had measured their potential capa-
city for mischief and found their appearance upon the
scene anything but reassuring.

1 The "IMinni" of Jer. li. 27, where they are also closely associated
with the Medes.

- Bab. Chr. IV, 2. The name of the enemy is supplied by the acute
suggestion of Winckler.

3 It has been supposed {e.g. Par. 245) that the defeat of the Kimme-
rians mentioned by Esarhaddon in I R. 45 (cf. note 4 preceding) was
inflicted in Cappadocia. But IJuhusna there mentioned must be an error
for IJubusJcia in the northern border of Assyria proper — a confirmation,
in fact, of the situation as made out for the struggle in the east.


§ 760. There is nothing more striking or instructive
in all Oriental history than the situation which we are
now contemplating. After incredible toil and sacrifice
Assyria has arrived at the summit of her power. Her
wise and strenuous king has profited by all the errors of
the past. He has introduced a larger and surer method
of government, conciliated the disaffected, consolidated
the old possessions, and added to the realm the most val-
uable of all the known regions of the earth. And just as
he is laying the capstone upon the colossal structure, the
work of undermining the foundation begins. True, the
empire endures for sixty years longer, and for a great por-
tion of that period Assyria is still in its pride (Zech. x. 11).
But mark that it maintains itself only by its superiority to
the older enfeebled races of the south. It is of little per-
manent moment that in its forward march the line of least
resistance follows the valley of the Nile. Its hold upon
the stubborn north, now being perpetually reinforced by
bands of sturdy aliens from beyond the inland seas, is
gradually relaxed. Another expedition ^ against the re-
moter northeast availed at least for the spoiling and in-
timidation of the Median confederates. But the waves
thus rolled back returned again stronger than before, the
precursors of the long lines of breakers which were at
length to submerge the last defences of the outworn and
exhausted empire.

§ 761. The suppression of a conspiracy in Nineveh in
669 2 and a final expedition to Egypt in 668 bring to a
close the active career of Esarhaddon. The last-named
enterprise cost him his life. According to the chronicler,
" In the twelfth year the king of Assyria marched against
Egypt. Upon the way he took sick, and in the month
Marchesvan, on the tenth da}-, he died." His few years of
sovereignty were full of action, crowned with rare success.

1 I E. 46, col. IV, 8 ff.; Ill K. IG, col. IV, 1 ff.

2 Bab. Chr. IV, 29: " lu the eleventh year the king (remained) in As-
syria. Many nobles he put to death with the sword."


He left his vast dominions with a fairer show of prosperity
and safety than the Assyrian reahii had ever presented at
the demise of any of his predecessors. What is perhaps of
most significance is the fact that within the Semitic domain
— the true province of a united government — no grave
insurrections were set on foot. Only such communities
were as yet intractable which enjoyed a means of escape
from the soldiers of Asshur. The Tyrians had an outlet
to the sea ; the Arabs to the desert. The West-land was
in his days at last entirely quiescent. Time and unrelax-
ing pressure had there done the Avork which had before
been wrought throughout Syria (§ 294, 307, 335), and ear-
lier still in Mesopotamia (§ 178 f., 218). "Manasseh of
Judah " (§ 798 ff.), the son of the rebel Hezekiah, was
among his voluntary vassals, along with the rulers of Edom,
Moab, and Ammon, Gaza, Askalon, Ekron, Ashdod, and
the princes of Phoenicia, all of whom he could summon
to furnish materials for the building of his palaces.^

§ 762. In the intervals of his campaigns Esarhaddon
also found time to illustrate his taste for art and archi-
tecture. The great rebuilding of Babylon (§ 749) was at
least inaugurated under his general direction. His own
city received new and splendid additions. His " South-
west Palace," in Nebi Yunus, exceeded in size and mag-
nificence that of Sinacherib, which it was intended to
supersede. He named it " the storehouse of all things,"
inasmuch as it was both palace, arsenal, museum, and gallery
of art. To another palace at Kalach he somewhat irrev-
erently transferred the monumental inscriptions of Tiglath-
pileser HI (§ 341). This structure, still incomplete at the
time of his death, bore the proud inscription " king of the

1 III R. 16, col. V. 13 ff. (cf. I R. 47, col. V. 11). To these were added
ten princes of the island of Cyprus, making twenty-two in all, according
to his own enumeration. We need not be surprised to find Ba'al, king of
Tyre, among the number, for he was quite willing to furnish an ordinary
rate of tribute, and only objected to losing his independence (cf. § 683).
That Esarhaddon looked closely after his provinces in the West-land we
may infer from Ezra iv. 2 ; cf. 2 K. xvii. 24 ff. (§ 709).


kings of Egypt, Pathros (upper Egypt), and Kush." These
and other labours in various cities of his empire, along
with his achievements in war and statesmanship, testify to
his wonderful energy as well as his genius for government.
Yet withal he was of a mild and generous disposition, per-
haps more so than any other noted king of Assyria. Though
stern enough to obstinate rebels, he was eager to spare and
pardon the submissive. No Assyrian king before or after
him wielded such unquestioned and widely extended power,
and none used his power so wisely and temperately as
he. It may be that he was always expectant of an early
death, for he wrought in haste and appointed his successors
before he set out on his last expedition. Yet though his
work was done quickly, it was skilful and solid, and might
have been enduring, if the conditions which were slowly
but surely preparing the doom of Nineveh had not been
beyond all human control.



§ 763. AssHURBANiPAL (" Asshur begets a son," 668-
626), son of Esarhaddon, was, as he himself informs us,^
appointed and installed by his father as viceroy in Nineveh
and as prospective king, on the twelfth of lyyar (end of
April, 668). This was a wise precaution, perhaps taken
with a view to avoiding the trouble which had preceded
his own inauguration. At any rate the final enthronement
of the new king was accomplished without disturbance.
The prestige of his father, and perhaps his own personal
qualities, made his rule popular, and the favourable omens
Avere reinforced by a period of unprecedented national
prosperity .2 But Asshurbanipal was not the sole ruler of
the empire. Another son, Samas-sum-ukin (" Shamash
has determined the name," 668-647), had been designated
king of Babylonia, and he there took the throne concur-
rently with his brother's accession in Nineveh. The dual
sovereignty, with a subordinate r61e assigned to Babylonia,
turned out to be a colossal failure. But of this more

§ 764. The condition of the lately acquired Egyptian
domain first called the young king into action. It was
when Esarhaddon was on the way thither, to deal with an
insurrectionary movement led by Tirhaka (§ 693), that

1 V R. 1, 8 ff. See Note 17 in Appendix. Esarhaddon made the assem-
bled princes of the empire swear solemnly by the names of the gods to
protect his son, in view of his future kingship (lines 20-22).

2 V R. 1, 45 ff.



he met with his untimely death. During his absence from
Egypt (670-668), that veteran campaigner prepared, in his
ancestral home in Ethiopia, to drive the new lords of the
land from their usurped dominion. The death of the con-
queror of Egypt was the signal for action.^ The Assyrian
garrisons, from Thebes northward to ^Memphis, were one
by one overcome, while the foreign governors found it
expedient to retire from their posts, and betake themselves
to the desert till help should come from Nineveh. The
expected succour was not long delayed. A strong force
was despatched to the relief of the loyalists. A battle was
fought at Karbanit,^ near the Canopus mouth of the Nile, in
which Tirhaka was defeated. He fled southward by the
river, yet with the command of a sufficient army and suffi-
cient public sympathy to make it advisable that the Assyr-
ians should secure reinforcements. These were not back-
ward in offering themselves, since all the subject states to
the west of the Euphrates now felt that the fate of Egypt
was sealed. Twenty-two vassals sent contingents by land
and sea to join the forces of Asshurbanipal. In about forty
days Thebes was reached. It was found abandoned by
Tirhaka, and was taken without opposition. The reduc-
tion of all the territory that had been subdued and garri-
soned by Esarhaddon was now an easy matter. The baffied
Ethiopian entrenched himself on both banks of the Nile
some distance south of Thebes. Here he was not molested
by the invaders, nor did he move northwards until the
main Assyrian army of occupation had withdrawn. Then
the well-practised game began anew.

§ 765. The reader will understand the precarious posi-
tion occupied by the princes of Lower Egypt under the
Assyrian dominion. In transferring their allegiance from
the Ethiopian over-lord to the king of Assyria, they had

1 The Egyptian wars are comprised in the first two "campaigns " in the
Annals of Asshurbanipal V R. 1 and 2, cf. K. 2675 and K. 228, in G. Smith,
History of Asshurbanipal, p. 36 ff.

- See Delitzsch, Par. 314,


not simply undergone a change of masters. They had
always been true and patriotic Egyptians, forward to act
of their own free will (cf. vol. i, p. 422) in defence of the
home-land, or in aggression against the common oppressor.
The old tolerant relation of suzerainty and general super-
intendence, established by the lirst Ethiopian conqueror
(§ 347), was still maintained essentially unimpaired. Now
it had been the wise and comparatively generous policy of
Esarhaddon (§ 756) to alloAV as many of these nome-rulers
as possible to retain at least the nominal control of their
own principalities, while administering them in behalf of
the empire of the Tigris. It was in some respects a new
situation which here confronted Esarhaddon, and his policy
was a great experiment. That it succeeded so well is a
testimony to the high degree of perfection now attained by
the Assyrian governmental system. The conditions, in
brief, were these. Only the over4ord Tirhaka was a pro-
scribed enemy of Assyria. The governors of the provinces
were virtual appointees of Esarhaddon, as much so as, for
example, Hoshea of Samaria (§ 332) had been an appointee
of Tiglathpileser III. In this first formidable uprising,
therefore, none of them, even if under suspicion of disaffec-
tion, were strictly called to account. After the defeat and
flight of Tirhaka, and the renewed subjugation of the
country, they, along with the governors of Assyrian origin,
were reinstated or confirmed in their positions. It is easy
to see, however, that with the conflicting claims upon their
allegiance, their native country must wield the stronger
influence. And it is not surprising to find that Tirhaka
still had power among them to conjure with the name of a
united and independent Egypt.

§ 766. The withdrawal of the main Assyrian army,
without having extended the conquest of Upper Egjqot
or destroying the army of Tirhaka, encouraged some of
these oflicials to make overtures to their former lord. The
most important of them was Necho (" Necho I " of Ma-
netho), who was indeed the most powerful of all the



vassal kings of Egypt, being ruler of the Avhole territory
from Memphis, the ancient capital, to Sais, not far from
the sea on the main Avestern branch of the Nile. With
him was allied iSarluddri, the prince of Pelusium, and
Pakrura, the viceroy of the neighbouring nome of Pesept,
the key to Egyptian Arabia. The watchfulness of the
Assyrian officers prevented the consummation of the plot.
Incriminating letters were intercepted on the persons of
the messengers. Necho and Sharludari were seized and
sent in chains to Nineveh. The cities, which were involved
in the insurrection were taken and their inhabitants put to
death with most cruel barbarity. Among them were Sais
and the better known Biblical city of Zoan. But strange
to say, the fate of the captured ringleaders was mitigated.
Neither of them seems to have lost his life, while Necho
was actually pardoned, loaded with presents, and restored
to the lordship of his old city, Sais.^ Tirhaka, in despair,
fled still further south, where death soon put an end to his
patriotic enterprises and his checkered life.

§ 767. But the forlorn hope of Egyptian independence
was not extinguished with the passing away of the veteran
agitator. His nephew Urdaman (Tanut- Anion) succeeded
to the throne of Ethiopia and to the hereditary duty of
war upon the Ass3n-ians. The permanently available army
of the foreigners Avas plainly insufficient for the suppression
of the whole country. It could only continue to retain
the Delta. Urdaman occupied Thebes, and thence marched
northward and took his stand at On (Heliopolis). Thence
he proceeded to blockade Memphis. It was abandoned by
its defenders. Another army of relief came from Assyria.
Before it the "rebels" once more retired. They retreated

1 A measure as politic as it was humane. It would seem as though
Asshurbanipal followed for a time at least the generous policy of his
father towards suppliant captives (§ 762). The cruel treatment of the
seditious cities, now in the last stage of probation (§ 288), which reminds
one of the conduct of -lulius Csesar at the siege of Munda (cf. § 169),
was not inflicted by the Great King himself (V R. 2, 1 ff.), but by his
generals. He himself was then at least in Nineveh (2, 7).


to the city of Thebes, which they soon abandoned to a
cruel fate (§769).^ A decisive defeat awaited them still
further south on the Nile, before the city of Kipkip, the
capital of Nubia. With this event, Ethiopian predomi-
nance in Egypt came to an end.

§ 768. For several years Lower Egypt was held securely
by the Assyrians. The pardon and restoration of Necho
had conciliated his people as well as himself. There
seemed indeed to be no spirit of independence left in
Egypt. The Ethiopian over-lordship was no more, and the
ruling power in the Delta was enlisted in the cause of the
foreigners. Thus Necho served his master faithfully till
his death. But his son Psammetichus I, though likewise
placed upon the throne by the Assyrians, soon revolted
against them in the name of ancient Egyptian autonomy.
He received aid not only from other princes of the Delta,
but from Ionian and Carian troops sent down by Gyges,
king of Lydia (§ 774 f.). He succeeded in maintaining
his independence, and although the details of the struggle
are not known to us, it is certain that by the year 645,
while Asshurbanipal was still firmly seated upon his throne
in Nineveh, Assyrian domination was forever at an end in
the valley of the Nile. In closing our cursory survey of
this remarkable international episode, we may point out
that perliaps the most important permanent result of the
Assyrian invasions and occupation of Egypt was to make
it impossible for the Ethiopian dynasty to maintain its con-
trol of tlie lower country. Egypt will soon re-emerge as a
more formidable power, under changed yet more normal

§ 769. Tlie fortunes of Egypt in this eventful era are
not unnoticed in HebrcAv Prophecy. The allusions are not
very specific, yet they are unmistakable and illustrate
the unique prevision of the Old Testament seers. Isaiah

1 Thebes was this time completely looted. Among the spoil, mention
is made of two beautiful obelisk?;, of the weight of 2500 talents, which
were taken to Nineveh (V R. 2, 41 fl).


xix. has already come under our notice (§ 656), and an
analysis of the section, vs. 1-15, was given, with the remark
that the instrument to be used for the punishment of
Egypt was her rival Assyria. We may now see how the
picture here presented of the anarchy and helplessness of
the land of the Pharaohs corresponds in its main features
to the Assyrian domination and its results. The internal
strife of v. 2 reached its height when Necho, favoured by
Assyria, took up arms in favour of his patrons. The char-
acter of the " cruel master " of v. 4 is illustrated by the
treatment accorded to the revolting cities (§ 766). The
folly of the princes of Zoan and Memphis (vs. 11-13) is
exemplified by their taking the lead in fomenting insur-
rection in Egypt, because they were " the corner-stone of
her tribes." The prediction, uttered half a century before,
found its fulfilment at last, though the chief value of the
prophecy is not its foresight of particular events, but its
insight into the essential character of the Egyptian govern-
ment, and its relation to the fortunes of the people of

§ 770. A more specific reference to the troubles of
Egypt is found in a prophetic reminiscence of the capture
of Thebes (§ 767), found in Nah. iii. 8-10. Prophecy is
not simply the forerunner of the events that make up
history ; it is also the interpreter of the past for the uses
of the future (cf. § 14). The great catastrophe of the
age was the impending fall of Nineveh (cf. § 760). Other
tragic events were types and analogies of this appalling
consummation. Thus Nahum, writing over thirty years
after the close of the revolution in Egypt, surveys the
calamities of his time, and can find nothing so exemplary
as the fate of " No-Amon^ that sitteth among the streams ;

1 "Xo" is the Biblical name of the famous capital of Upper Egypt,
the Greek " Thebes " ami later " Diospolis." The Assyrian form is NV,
to which the native Egyptian iVm, " city," nearly corresponds. It is called
Xo-Amon as being the principal seat of the worship of the great god Amen,
the supposed analogue of Zeus-Jupiter ; cf. Jer. xlvi. 25. Other Biblical


that has the waters round about her ; whose rampart is the
sea,^ and her wall the waters.^ Ethiopia and Egypt were
her strength, and that without end. Put and the Libyans ^
were among her helpers. Even she as an exile went into
captivity. Her infants, too, were dashed in pieces at the
corners of all the streets : and upon her nobles they cast
the lot, and all her grandees they bound with chains"
(vs. 8-10).

§ 771. The doubtful possession of Egypt was not the
only hard problem left in the West by Esarhaddon to be
solved by his successor. At his death in 668 Tja-e was
still maintaining a precarious independence. But not
long thereafter it submitted to the more favourable terms
offered by the new king, who found it necessary to concili-
ate all opposition in order to be unhampered in his Egyp-
tian campaigns. In the list of twenty-two princes who
furnished contingents for the reconquest of Egypt appears
the name of Ba'al, king of Tyre.* It was demanded of
him that he should send his children to Nineveh. Asshur-
banipal was content to retain his daughter and the daugh-
ters of his brother ; but he released and sent back his
son^ with a pardon for Ba'al, on condition, naturally, of

references are found in Ez. xxx. 14 ff. See Par. 318, and especially
A. Jeremias, in Delitzscli and Haupt's Beitrdrje zur Assyriologie, III, i,
104 f.

1 That is, the Nile, called also in modern Arabic "the sea."

- This correction (merely the change of vowel-pointing) is obvious.

3 The location of Put is not yet definitely ascertained. Glaser, one of
the best and most recent investigators, makes it the name of a people in
mid-west Arabia; see Skizze der alttn Geschichte und Geographie Ara-
biens (1890), II, 332 ff.

* The list is given in S. A. Smith, Asurbanipal, ii, 25 f. ; cf. Winckler,
GBA. p. 337. Possibly the name is inserted here merely for the sake
of symmetry. On the other hand, while the Egyptian wars make up the
first two campaigns, the capture of Tyre would seem to have come later,
since it forms part of the "third campaign " in the annals of Asshurbanipal.
These, however, do not maintain complete chronological order. The date
can hardly be settled as yet.

^ Described significantly (V R. 2, 58) as a lad " who had never crossed
the sea," — that is, of course, not a "land-lubber," but a mere school-


an increase of tribute. It is noteworthy that the same
leniency is here exhibited as marked the treatment of
Palestinian insurgents generally (§ 625). As a matter
of fact, to have destroyed Tyre, or even to have crippled
it by excessive rigour, would have been to kill the goose
that laid the golden egg. As to the condition of Palestine
in these earlier years of Asshurbanipal, it may be sufficient
to say that it remained for a time as peaceful and con-
tented as it had been in the days of his father. The name
of Manasseh of Judah appears again Qcf. § 761) in the
list of tributaries alluded to above.

§ 772. A remarkable prophecy (Isa. xxiii.) summarizes
the condition and prospects of Tyre during this period of
Assyrian aggression upon the Mediterranean coast-land.
We have a hint of the date at which it was written ; for,
according to v. 13, the devastation of " the land of the
Chaldees " by the Assyrians, and the destruction of Baby-
lon, are still fresh in the minds of the Prophet's readers or
hearers. We may be reasonably certain, therefore, that
the time was after the vengeful work of Sinacherib in
Babylonia (§ 733 ff., 740) and very near to the epoch of
the restoration under Esarhaddon (§ 748 ff.). It can
hardly have been earlier than the former date, since no
previous Assyrian campaign resulted in such calamities
to both land and capital as those here mentioned. It
cannot well be much subsequent to the latter; for there
would have been no significance in reminding the Tyrians
of the fate of a people who had been long restored to
prosperity.^ It is therefore quite possible that Isaiah him-

boy. The phrase is probably quoted from the letters sent by the lad's
iather to the Great King.

1 In spite of the obscurities and peculiarities of certain expressions,
the general sense of the verse is clear. The first portion refers to evil
wrought by tlie Assyrians upon the Chaldfean country, and the second to
their destruction of a city, which can only be Babylon itself. The phrase
" this is the people which was not " apparently refers to the expulsion of
the Chaldaean communities by Sinacherib ; and the fate of Babylon is most
naturally associated therewith, because, as a matter of fact, the Chaldsean


self wrote at least the greater portion of the chapter in
his later years, perhaps about 685 B.C. ; that is, about
twenty years before Tyre capitulated to Asshurbanipal.
The situation is, as usual, indicated in broad and general
terms, as well as somewhat idealized. Tyre is made most
prominent, because of her importance and her steady resist-
ance to the Assyrian arms (§ 680 ff.). But it is really
southern Phoenicia as a whole that is the subject of the

Online LibraryJames Frederick McCurdyHistory, prophecy and the monuments (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 39)