James Frederick McCurdy.

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prophecy. Sidon is referred to mainly because of her being
the mother city (v. 12 ; cf. § 44). Perhaps the most strik-
ing historical allusion is that made to the frequent and
increasing forced migrations from the home-cities to the
colonies (vs. 6, 12; cf. § 42). Very noteworthy also is
the statement that the report of the fall of Tyre should
make the Egyptians quake (v. 5), an observation which
our present survey enables us to appreciate (cf. § 753, 757,
769). Finally, we must not overlook the fact that the
Assyrians, and no other, are the instruments of Jehovah's
chastisement (vs. 9, 11), since otherwise the warning remi-
niscence of V. 13 would be irrelevant.^

§ 773. We may pass over, as being of little general in-
terest, the voluntary homage and rich offerings of princes
in northern Phoenicia, eastern Cilicia, and Tabal (Tiba-
rene).^ The loyalty of the last named was perhaps
inspired by fear of the ominous Kimmerians (§ 758 ff.).
Of more importance is the history of the celebrated Gyges
(Assyr. Gagri)^ king of Lydia, who on account of these

regime of Merodacli-baladan as "kiug of Babylon" (Isa. xxxix. 1) was
one of world-wide fame, which had been displaced by the Assyrian domi-
nation. The denial that Isaiah was the author of the chapter, on the
ground of the occurrence of several words which do not appear elsewhere
in his writings {e.g., by Dillmann, Der Prophet Esaia erkllirt, 1890, p. 210),
would seem to involve the assumption that Isaiah's Hebrew vocabulary
was somewhat limited.

^ The commonly held hypothesis that v. 13 is a later interpolation is
very improbable. Though approjiriate in its innnediato association with
the context, what an elaborate historical construction it would involve
as an afterthought ! See, however, Cheyne, Introduction, i). 139 ff.

- V 11. 2, 03-94; G. Smith, History of Asshurbanipal, p. G8 f.


northern marauders was brought most strangely into rela-
tions with the king of Assyria. The actual career of the
Lydian prince is known from classical story, which rejDre-
sents him as a palace favourite who compassed the death
of his master, Kandaules, and after his accession to the
throne raised his feeble nation to a commanding position.^
But the mythological halo that invests his name has
given him a wider currency ; and Plato's " ring of Gyges "
is better known than the philosophy which it illustrates.
By a curious fate his relations with far-off Assyria partake
of a similar semi-mythical character, which, however, I
may be permitted to set forth in the words of the Great
King himself,^ especially as they help to illustrate the
religious conceptions of the Assyrian people.

§ 774. " Gyges, the king of Lydia (^Lu-ud-di), a region
beyond the Sea, a remote district, the mention of which
the kings my fathers had never heard, Asshur, my beget-
ter, caused to behold my name in a dream, saying : ' Em-
brace the feet of Asshurbanipal, king of Assyria, and
by uttering his name conquer thy enemies.' On the day
when he saw that vision, he sent his courier to bid me
hail.'"^ And the dream which he had beheld he sent by the
hand of his messenger and he repeated it to me. From
that very day when he embraced my feet, he overcame the
Kimmerians, who were besetting his land, who had not
feared my fathers nor embraced my royal feet. By the
aid of Asshur and Ishtar, the gods m}^ lords,* he cast into
chains and fetters and bonds of iron two of the prefects of
the Kimmerians, whom he subdued,^ and made them come
before me with rich presents. His messenger, whom he
had regularly sent to bid me hail, he (now) failed to send.

1 Herod, i, 8 ff. ^ y r. 2, 95-125.

2 Literally, "to ask for my welfare " ; so 1 Sam. x. 4, in the identical
words of the Assyrian.

^ Notice that homage paid to the king of Assyria implies worship of
his gods, and their consequential protection (cf. § 61, 299).
^ That is, he subdued the Kimmerians, and then cast, etc.


And because he regarded not the command of Asshur my
begetter, and relied upon his own power, and (because) his
own heart prompted him, he sent his forces to join Psam-
metichus (^Pi-sa-yni-il-kl^, king of Egypt, who had rejected
the yoke of my lordship. I heard of this and prayed to
Asshur and Ishtar: ' Before his enemies may his corpse be
thrown down, and may his bones be carried awa}'.' ^ Ac-
cording as I petitioned Asshur, it was fulfilled ; before his
enemies his corpse was thrown down, and his bones were
carried away. The Kiramerians, who by the spell of my
name he had trodden down, came on and overwhelmed the
wliole of his land. Afterwards his son seated himself upon
his throne. The evil deeds, which through the uplifting
of my hands the gods my defenders had executed against
his father, he reported by the hand of his messenger, and
embraced my royal feet, saying, ' Tliou art a king whom
God has chosen.^ Thou didst curse my father, and evil
was inflicted upon him. Me, the slave that worships thee,
do thou bless, and I will bear thy yoke.' "

§ 775. Here we have the first episode of the relations
between the far West and the East which were a century
later to become so full of interest and fateful results.
Stripped of its religiosity and self-glorification the account
is meagre enough, and it is difficult to say whether the
Great King took any more active interest in the affairs of
Lydia than to permit the hard-pressed king of Lydia to call
upon the talismanic names of Asshur and Ishtar. Proba-
bly he did nothing more ; and the story is related mainly
for the purpose of showing that the name of the king of
Assyria and his gods had still power to overawe the bar-
barians of the north.'^ We have, however, some important
facts. The rebellion of Psammetichus (§ 768) apparently

1 Cf. § 734, note.

2 Literally "has known." Cf. the same word (;ij of Asshurbanipal., p. 89 &.

2 Cyl. B, III, 102-IV, 14, or Smith, History, etc., p. 97 ff. Two princes,
sons of Gagu, prefect of Sachi, were concerned in this uprising. Gagu
is usually identified with the "Gog" of Ezek. xxxviii., which describes
the incursions of the Scythians (§ 814). The name Sachi suggested


§ 778. The brother of Asshurbanipal (§ 763), upon the
vice-regal throne of Babylon, may have cherished, almost
from the earliest years of his administration, the hopes of
complete independence and freedom of action in all Baby-
lonia. But it was long before he gave any sign of a revo-
lutionary purpose. He had been set over Babylon in ac-
cordance with the policy and the wishes of Esarhaddou,
who desired to conserve and nurture its liberties and
interests (§ 748 ff.). He seems to have followed in his
father's footsteps ^ in the performance of this worthy task.
But he was after all only administrator of a portion of the
empire ruled from Nineveh, and the more his country pros-
pered, the more irksome became to him his position of infe-
riority to his brilliant brother. He could not forget that
while his father had been by his own choice " viceroy " of
Babylon, he himself had been designated as its king.^
Such control as he now held on sufferance it was impossible
to perpetuate. Divided dominion or concurrent jurisdiction
within the same empires is virtually impossible in Semitic
lands. If the rulers themselves agree for a time, the in-
triguers and agitators of the rival courts make occasion for
strife and collision. In countries where judicial admin-
istration is so defective, conflicts of authority as to border

to G. Smitli the (^aka, the original form of the name "Scythian"


1 In one of his inscriptions (V R. 62, 9 f .) he says that the great gods
had approved of him for the task of gathering together the scattered peo-
ple of Akkad and of restoring their neglected shrines. It is not quite
clear how far his jurisdiction extended. Prohably he ruled over the
vFhole of Babylonia except the southerly portions, which had been unset-
tled by the Chaldfean troubles. Winckler (GB A. 279) says that he did not
control Shumer and Akkad. This is in direct contradiction to his own
statement in V R. 62, 5, and his Cylinder Inscription, line 11. Winckler's
mistake is perhaps due to his erroneous conception of "Shumer and
Akkad " (see § 109) . That Assyria directly controlled South Babylonia is
clear from the history of the complications with Elam.

2 Even by Asshurbanipal himself, though he is careful to specify the
relation as a kind of " clientship. " See Lehmann, De inscriptionibus
cuneatis, etc., p. 24 ff., and especially Jensen in KB. II, 258 f.


troubles, as to fugitives, and the like difficulties, are inevit-
able and seldom decided except by appeal to force. That
the two brothers administered neighbouring territories for
nearly twenty years without quarrelling is really more
remarkable than the fact of their final rupture. Samas-
sum-ukln must have yielded many a time to arbitrary
restraint before he attempted to throw off all control. We
have the story of the quarrel told by Asshurljanipal alone,
and the seditious brother is naturally put in the wrong.
But until we hear the other side, and unless we hold that
in the Semitic Avorld might was always right and unsuccess-
ful rebellion always wrong, we would do well to suspend our
judgment. It is quite possible that Esarhaddon was more
to blame for devising the dual regime, than was his unfort-
unate son for seeking to give it due effect. At all events,
the tragic ending of the present episode only confirms the
inference, already made so clear, that Babylonia could
flourish neither as a province of Assyria nor as an autono-
mous dependent.

§ 779. Babylon was not directly involved in the first
series of disturbances. The parties were the old discord-
ant elements whose various combinations had already con-
fronted the Assyrians with many insoluble problems. The
Elamites had been conciliated towards Babylonia b}^ Esar-
haddon (§ 752) and appear to have kept on the best of
terms with its new ruler. But the Gambulians, a race of
semi-nomadic Aramaeans on the lower Tigris (§ 330 ) who
were trying to assert their independence of Asshurbanipal,
joined the Elamites in active hostilities against Assyria.^
These allies appear to have invaded Babylonia, and to have
threatened Babylon itself. It seems remarkable that no
mention is made of an attempt at defence by the Bab}'-
lonians themselves. At any rate the insurgents under the
lead of Urtaku, king of Elam, were driven over the border

1 Cylinder B, IV, 43-58 (G. Smith, History of Asshurbanipal , p. 100 ff.)-
According to Cyl. B, VI, 83 ff., they had incited Urtaku of Elam against


by the Assyrian troops. Singularl}' enough, all the leaders
of the movement died about this time by the manifest
judgment of heaven. Still more strangely this intervention
of the offended gods in behalf of their pious champion only
seemed to increase his troubles ; for a very " devil " of a
man, named Teumman, now took the throne in Elam in
the place of his brother Urtaku. The rightful heir, with
his kindred, fled for protection to Nineveh, a fact which
seems to show that in all probability there was a strong
foreign party in Elam aided and abetted from the Assyrian
capital. Teumman requested that the fugitives be extra-
dited. Asshurbanipal refused to give them up.^ A second
advance of the Elamites into Babylonia was made and
repulsed. They were pursued across the border, and
defeated before the royal city of Susa. Teumman, who
had been warned by heavenly portents of his impending
fall, and had been besides smitten with foul disease for his
presumption, was now taken and slain, and Elam was
virtually put under Assyrian administration. To save
appearances, however, a son of Urtaku (one of the fugi-
tives in Assyria), Ummanigas by name, was placed upon
the throne.^ On the return march exemplary punishment
was inflicted upon the Gambulians.^

§ 780. Now at length (c. 650 B.C.) the storm broke
loose for which so many elements had long been gathering.
Not since 701 (§ 677 ff.) had there been stich a commotion
in Western Asia. To estimate its character and motives
we must once more be on our guard against taking literally
the statements of our only witness, the Assyrian tyrant
himself. The essential portion of his case against his
brother is as follows,^ made after enumerating the kind-

1 Scarcely, however, on grounds of humanity. His magnanimity may
be estimated by the fact that among other atrocities committed after the
defeat of Teumman, he took out of Elam a grandson of the great Mero-
dach-baladan and put him to a shameful death in Nineveh.

- V R. 3, 27 ff. ; and much more fully and unctuously in Cyl. B, IV, 71-
V, 103.

3 Cyl. B, VI, 10 ff. 4 V R. Ill, 96 f£.


nesses he had shown him throughout his reign : '• Yet he,
Samas-sum-ukin, an unfaithful brother, who did not ob-
serve the covenant made with me, incited the people of
Akkad,^ the Chaldseans, the Aramteans,^ the people of the
sea-land from Akaba to Bab-salimeti, my servants and
dependents,'^ to rebel against me. Umraanigas, the fugi-
tive, who had clasped my royal feet, whom I had placed
on the throne in Elam, and the kings of the Gute,* of
Palestine,'^ of Melidia, whom I had installed by the war-
rant of Asshur and Beltis, — all of these he set at enmity
against me, and they made common cause with him. The
gates of Sippar, Babylon, and Borsippa he barred, and can-
celled the bond of brotherhood." This must not be taken
too seriously. It is another way of saying that at or about
this time the peoples named entered into revolt. That the
king of Babylon negotiated with most of the princes named
is very likely ; but they were as ready to revolt as he was,
and some of them — those in the far west and in the north-
east — were already in a state of disaffection. What the
court-annalist aims at is to place the blame of the general
and inevitable outbreak upon the most obnoxious of the

§ 781. Further, it should be observed that even for
the rising of the neighbouring peoples this "disloyal
brother" receives too much credit. Let us look at his
position for a moment. He had, of course, a policy, being
ruler of such a country as Babylonia. It was manifestly
his interest and duty to follow out the lesson he had
learned from his good father (§ 750 ff.), to cultivate
friendly relations with Elam and the Chaldseans. This,

1 Here, as frequently in the inscriptions of Asshurbanipal, equivalent
to all Babylonia, except the south-laud.

- That is, the Aramieans on the lower Tigris, the Gambulians, and
others (§ 339).

3 Literally, " who behold my face " ; cf. § 407.

* Apparently here a general name for the northeastern peoples
(cf. §02, 109, 777).

5 The reference is in part to King Manasseh of .Judah (see § 801 ff.).


apparently, he had always done. Nor were the Elamites,
as a rule, unfriendly to Babylonia. The incursions lately
made by them over the border were, like those of the
Chaldaians, not made against Babylon, but rather against
Assyria, which was always regarded as an intrusive usurp-
ing power. Twenty years' experience of the Assyrian
regime in the lower River region, with its encroachments,
intrigues, and cruelties, had taught him that it was by
no means a blessing to its subjects. Besides, like other
Babylonians, he could not but sympathize with the strug-
gling Chaldaeans as against the Assyrians. It was neither
flattering nor profitable to any ruler of Babylonia that the
revenues of the seaports should be carried past the old
commercial cities of Babylonia, and go to enrich the insa-
tiable magnates of Nineveh. All things considered, it
seemed right and expedient that Babylonia and its neigh-
bours should be left to themselves. Perhaps on the whole,
instead of following a recent historian ^ in characterizing
Samas-sum-ukin ^ as a conscienceless knave or else a
weak-minded simpleton," it would be better to say that
his chief fault was his misfortune in striking too soon. At
all events, fanatic though he may have been, he moved
upon the lines which at length led to deserved success in
more propitious days. As to the deluded Elamites, Ara-
maeans, and Chaldccans, we may be sure that the Assyrian
garrisons and tax-gatherers were a more powerful provo-
cation to revolt than the seductions of the Babylonian

§ 782. The veteran generals of Asshurbanipal, to whom,
rather than to his OAvn genius for war and statesmanship,
he owed the preservation of his empire,'^ met the uprising

1 Winckler, GBA. p. 280.

~ As Asshurbanipal himself seems to imply when he says (V R. 4, 97-
100) that, after being instigated by his brother, they came to antagonize
him on their own account.

3 Asshurbanipal, unlike his predecessors, seems never, or very rarely,
to have taken the field in person. After being told how he set out on the


with adequate skill and resource.^ The great fortified
cities, Sippar, Babylon, Borsippa, and Cutha (§ 94), were
besieged and finally taken. Reverse after reverse attended
the insurgents upon the field. What perhajDs contributed
most of all to their ill-fortune was the characteristic inter-
nal strife of the ruling party in Elam. Ummanigas, the
creature of the Assyrian king (§ 780), and at last, as the
story goes, his rebellious vassal, was murdered by his own
brother, Tammaritu, also a pardoned fugitive, whom As-
shurbanipal had appointed governor of one of the Elamitic
provinces. The new king, true to the hereditary policy,
ranged himself on the side of the foes of Assyria, and
placed an army at the disposal of the hard-pressed king
of Babylon. Before, how^ever, the promised help could
be effective, he in his turn was dethroned by one of the
nobles of the country, named Indabigas, who defeated him
in battle and compelled him to flee the country with a
band of his retainers. After a roundabout journey and
many sufferings they found their way to Nineveh, wdiere,
by propitiation of the Great King and his gods, the
deposed prince succeeded a second time in gaining pro-

§ 783. The rebellious cities of Babylon were thus left
without adec^uate defence. The army of Assyria, having
ravaged the open country, cut off their supplies and con-
march and defeated the enemy on such and such a field, we read regularly
that the captives were brought before him in Nineveh or Asshur to be tor-
tured and executed. His chief boast is, indeed, that he spent so much time
in interceding with his favourite deities for success in war or vengeance
upon his foes. This habitual employment was carried on, of course, in
the cities of Assyria proper, and is doubtless recorded to show among
other things that after all it was he who gave success to his armies. He
was apparently a new type of Assyrian hero.

1 V R. 3, 128 ff.

2 V R. 3, 13G-4, 41. The pardon of Tammaritu is another instance of
Asshurbanipal's boasted magnanimity. If the whole story as told in the
annals is true, the suppliant was the most grievous offender of them all.
Most probably he had been all along a secret supporter of his old patron,
and hence his dethronement by his loyal subjects !


fidently awaited their capitulation. For two full years
they endured the blockade. But slow starvation, helpless
isolation, and a spirit broken by long vassalage and the
shame and suffering of repeated national humiliation, at
length did their work. One after another Sippar, Cutha,
Borsippa, and Babylon itself, fell a prey to the invy of the
unsparing conqueror. The luckless prince in Babylon pre-
ferred self-immolation to the tender mercies of his brother,
and died in the flames of his own palace. ^ Fearful ven-
geance, with indescribable cruelties and Ijarbarities, was
inflicted upon all surviving rebels. Thus Asshurbanipal,
in 648 B.C., became king of Babylon. The land was not
further devastated. Nor were the cities destroyed. One
redeeming quality, at least, the conqueror had. Unlike
Sinacherib (§ 740), he had respect for the culture and
science of Babylonia. His passionate desire to appropriate

Online LibraryJames Frederick McCurdyHistory, prophecy and the monuments (Volume 2) → online text (page 33 of 39)