James Frederick McCurdy.

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their choicest monuments, and to enrich and adorn there-
with his own libraries and palace-walls, may have entered
into the motives that swayed him to the side of for-

§ 784. To secure Babylon for Assyria one decisive step
further was necessary, — the complete subjugation of Elam.
With this must be combined the extirpation of the Chal-
daean disturbers of the peace. A plausible pretext for the
invasion of Elam was never lacking, and least of all now
that the turbulent monarchy was upon its last probation
(§ 288). It was impossible now to allege against Elam
a conspiracy with Babylon ; but friendly relations with the
Chaldaean chiefs were sufficient to constitute a casus belli.

1 As is well known, this is the death ascribed to Asshurbanipal himself
(" Sardanapalus ") by the Greek writers. Th'e tradition combined the
fortunes of the two brothers. The narrative says naively that the gods
threw the rebel prince into burning tiame (V R. 4, 46 ff.). Among the
deities referred to, Merodach, the tutelary god of Babylon, is conspicuous
by his absence. Indeed, Asshurbanipal never claims the protection of
Merodach except in connection with his installation (K. 3050 ; G. Smith,
History, etc., p. 9 f. ; KB. III. 1, p. 236), while Esarhaddon, the friend
of Babylon, rejoiced in bis patronage.


It was quite in the order of things that the family of
Merodach-baLadan should be concerned in the business.
And so we find that another grandson of the old patriot,
Nabu-bel-sumi by name, was the occasion of intervention.
We are assured that, while Babylon was still unsubdued
(c. G50), he persuaded the Assyrians of friendly inten-
tions, and afterwards went over to the Elamites. After
the subjection of Babylonia, he took refuge with the king
of Elam, Indabigas (§ 782). When everything seemed
to be ready for successful interference, Asshurbanipal
demanded the surrender of the fugitive Chaldsean. Just
at this time another revolution was accomplished in Elam,
and Indabigas gave place to a soldier named Ummanaldas.
He thought it his duty to refuse the demand for extradi-
tion, with the result that in a short time he was compelled
to flee to the mountains. Tammaritu, the twice-pardoned
fugitive (§ 782), was then placed upon the throne by the
Assyrians. With incredible hardihood he revolted yet
again, and with the customary result. He now showed
the world at last that he could take to flight without
finding the road to Nineveh. At any rate, he is heard
of no more, except in a vague statement to the effect
that the gods subjected him a second time to Asshur-
banipal.i Xhe next turn of the kaleidoscope shows us
Ummanaldas again as king of Elam, and still again faith-
ful to his client from the sea-land.

§ 785. Meanwhile Asshurbanipal, thoroughly weary of
the scene-shifting, was preparing to bring on the catas-
trophe of the tragedy. An adequate force was collected.
The land was devastated with fire and sword from end to
end. Susa (" Shushan "), the capital, was taken, with its
rich, long-undisturbed treasures. Nothing was left undone
that might make more sure the ruin of the kingdom and
exclude its princes and people from all hope of restoration.
The gods of Elam were deported, and even the tombs of
the kines were rifled of their cjhastlv contents and carried

1 V R. 5, 34 f.


to Nineveh.^ After the Assyrian army had finished its work
of destruction and retired, the king of Ehim returned from
his flight. Once more the demand was made upon liim
for the surrender of the Chahhean. But the grandson of
Merodach-bahidan asked no further proof of the fidelity
of his patron. Sterner than King Saul and his follower,
he and his armour-bearer turned their swords upon one
another, and so evaded the last ordeal of Assyrian justice.
But the vengeance of the conqueror was not wholly
baffled. The spirit had perhaps not left the bodj^ of the
hated Chaldeean. There still remained the luxury of
imagining him forever deformed and degraded among his
peers in Sheol. The corpse is brought before him by his
messenger, along with the head of the faithful armour-
bearer. But the deed must be left to be described in the
Avords of the doer : " His bod}^ I granted not to the tomb.
More dead than before I made him.^ His head I cut off
and bound it on the neck of Nabu-kati-sabat, an officer (?)
of Samas-sum-ukin, my brother and enemy, who had joined
with him in stirring up war against me in Elam." ^

§ 786. Among the other parties to the general uprising
(§ 780) perhaps the most formidable were the tribes of
Northwestern Arabia. We are only beginning to learn

1 The conquest of Elam is very fully related from the Assyrian stand-
point in V R. 5, 36-7, 8. It was on this occasion that the statue of the
goddess Nana-Ishtar, which had been carried from her temple at Erech to
Susa sixteen hundred and thirty-five years before, was restored to its
original seat (V R. 6, 107 ff. ; cf. § 107).

2 The horror of mutilation after death was due to the persuasion that
the life of the spirit-world was a counterpart in its external aspects of the
earthly state of existence. Hence a whole body meant an undivided
ghost. But to this was added the belief that the spirit did not leave the
uncorrupted or unmutilated body till a certain period after the first stage
of dissolution (cf. John xi. o9 ; .Job xiv. 20). This, apparently, is the
explanation of the expression quoted above, " More dead than before
I made him," and it may account for the eager haste with which a fallen
foe was often beheaded (1 Sam. xvii. 46, 51).

3 This last episode of the war with Elam and the Chaldseans is told
in VR. 7,9-81.


the real importance of these j^eoples in ancient times.
Frequent references have been made to the part they
pLayecl as alUes of the Egyptians, as independent traders
of rich resources, and as unwilling subjects of the all-
subduing Assyrians (§§ 334, 630, 708, 754 f.). Since the
empire of the Tigris had succeeded in securing the West-
land and in conquering Egypt, it was of the very first
consequence that these new possessions should be kept
free from seditious entanglements with the restless tribes
of the desert as well as from their raids over the border.
After many costly attempts to put them down, a policy
was instituted by Esarhaddon of maintaining among them
centres of influence friendly to Assyria and at the same
time severely disciplining all marauders and malcontents
(§ 754 f.). A i^eople less predisposed than these Bedawin
to outside interference could scarcely be imagined: and it
is not surprising to find that just as two centuries before
they had contributed their quota of men and camels to the
defence of the west country against the encroachments of
Shalmaneser II. (§ 228), so now they were not backward
in offering aid to the wider movement for freedom and
revenge. Accordingly the leading chief of the Arabs east
of Palestine, Yaiita by name, son of the Hazael of whom
we have heard in Esarhaddon's wars (§ 754 f.),i refused to
continue his tribute, and sent two of his chiefs with a con-
tingent of riders to the assistance of the " disloyal brother,"
at the opening of the Babylonian war. This took place, of
course, before 648 B.C. The new problems and their result-
ing complications furnished motives for one of the most
arduous and prolonged of the campaigns of Asshurbanipal.
§ 787. We cannot here go into the somewhat obscure
details of the narrative of the Assyrian annalists. The
main enterprise, however, is of great interest for two
reasons. Palestine, especially the kingdom of Judah, was
involved in the same insurrection. Besides, the story

1 V R. 7, 82 ff.; Cyl. B, VII, 87 ff.; Smith, 283 ff., 290 fiE. Cf. Haupt,
" Wateh-ben-IIazael," in Ilebmica, vol. i. (1885).


makes familiar and more real to us several of the Bible
localities and peoples which have as yet scarcely come
within the region of actual knowledge. We distinguish
two great divisions of Arab tribes among those with whom
the Assyrians had now to do. Yaiita was the leader
among the one group, whose pasture-grounds and semi-
nomadic settlements extended from the east of Moab to
the north of Damascus as far as Zobah (cf. § 202). The
Assyrian posts along the border were soon reinforced from
Nineveh, and Yaiita, his allies, and dependents were de-
feated in a series of encounters (c. 647 B.C.). The Great
King- describes the actions as having' been fought in several
localities ; among others in Edom (i7ia Udumi)^ in Amnion
(ina Bit-Ammdni), in the territory of Hauran (jna nagl sa
Haurina^, and of Zobah (^Su-hi-ti). Yaiita himself sought
refuge in vain with Natnu, the king of Nebaioth.i In
close union with these more northerly tribes at this time
were the people of Nebaioth and of Kedar.^ The chief of
the Kedarenes joined in the league against Assyria. His
defeat was speedily effected.

§ 788. But unexpected developments brought much
graver difficulties to the rulers at Nineveh. The sons of

1 Probably the Nabataeans of the classical writers, who are also famil-
iar to us from the inscriptions of about the time of the Christian era
found in Sinai, Petra, and the Hauran, and from numerous coins. For
Biblical notices, see Gen. xxv. 13 ; xxviii. 9 ; xxxvi. 3 ; Isa. Ix. 7. Ac-
cording to the last-named passage they were a powerful tribe, as possess-
ing immense herds of cattle. As in the cuneiform records they are
associated closely with Kedar, so also in the Bible, and in Pliny, Hist.
Nat., V, 11, 65.

- It is the northerly tribes and their neighbours, lying to the east also
of Palestine, that are called by the general name " Arabs " in the Bible, in
the cuneiform inscriptions, and other early documents (see Glaser, Skizze
Arabiens, II, 315). The others, such as Nebaioth and Kedar, lying south
or southeast of Palestine, are distinguished by their own special names.
Kedar lay to the east of Nebaioth as its nearest neighbour. It was a
powerful community, as one might infer from the numerous references in
the Old Testament (Isa. xxi. 16 f.; xlii. 11; lx.7; Jer. ii. 10; xlix. 28; Ez.
xxvii. 21; Ps. cxx. 5; Cant. i. 5). For Kedar and Nebaioth see especially
Par. 296 ff.; KAT.^ 147 f. ; and Glaser, op. cit. 311 f.


Yaiita had fared veiy badly in the expedition for the relief
of Babylon (§ 786), and they gave themselves up to
Asshiirbanipal (648 B.C.). They were pardoned by him,
and upon the revolt of their father, the elder brother,
Abiyate by name, was made king over the Kedarenes.
After a time, however, the first love and hate resumed
their rights in the soul of this typical son of the desert,
and he joined Natnu, the chief of Nebaioth, against
the Ninevite empire. This prince, who had formerly
rejected Yaiita, the foe of Assyria, and left him to some
mysterious fate, was now read}' to take up arms in a
more general revolt, to which Uaite, the new king of the
Arabians, also lent his aid. It was to meet this formidable
uprising that one of the most remarkable expeditions of
antiquity was organized and despatched. As the disturb-
ances extended far to the north in the Syro-Arabian desert,
and were participated in by Aramseans as well as Arabs,
the march was not made either from southern or eastern
Palestine, but direct from Nineveh over the Tigris and
Euphrates and through the desert. The description of the
campaign is done in the best style of the later school of
Assyrian annalists, and, along with much conventional
bombast, contains passages of real rhetorical excellence.
For example, the lamentation of the hunted and desolate
Arabians is quoted ^ with an exquisite sense of their suf-
ferings and yet without a softening touch of pity or com-
punction, the whole series of calamities being referred, as
a matter of course, to the just vengeance of Asshur upon
the violators of his covenant. The first march of about
four hundred miles brought the Assyrians to the midst
of the desert of Mas, — the Syro-Arabian desert, — where
the people of Nebaioth and their allies were met and
overcome, and the survivors carried to Damascus. That
central border-land city was now made the base of opera-
tions, which were not stayed till all the leaders of the

1 V R. 9, 68 ff. The whole interesting record is given in V R. 7, 82-

10, 5, the longest of the campaign narratives.


insurrection were hemmed in and forced to surrender by-
starvation or at the point of the sword. The fate of the
chief offenders was settled by well-approved processes in
Nineveh.^ Along with the multitude of prisoners the
number of cattle and camels taken to Assyria was so vast,
that, in the language of the narrator, the land was filled
with them to the utmost corners. They were divided out
among the people of Assyria ; and the price of a camel in
the open market ran from one and a half silver shekels to
a half shekel.^

§ 789. It is related 3 by the Great King that after his
defeat of the Arabian confederates, and on his return by
the accustomed seacoast route, he put down a revolt in
the Phoenician city of Usu,^ as well as in the neighbouring
city of Akko.^ The relations already sustained by these
communities to Assyria (cf. § 675) seemed to necessitate
rigorous treatment, which was administered without stint.
The survivors, with their gods, were carried away to
Assyria. Now these insignificant towns, which could not
have taken independent action,^ must nevertheless have
been involved in the larger conspiracy. They seem, more-
over, to have been encouraged, by their position being so
remote from the scene of the principal actions, to withhold
their allegiance until the exasperated conqueror decided
upon extreme measures. What is, however, of most sig-
nificance is the suggestion here afforded of the attitude of

1 A mode of punishment much affected by the scholarly and devout
Asshurbanipal was to put his captives in a cage along with a number of
dogs, and " make them keep watch, with chains about their necks, at the
gate of Nineveh." See, for example, V R. 8, 27 ff.; 9, 103 ff.

2 V R. 9, 42 ff. 3 V R. 9, 115 ff. * See Par. 284 f.
5 In the earlier days of the empire revolts of petty communities here

and there were frequent enough, because it was not easy to reach them
or hold them in check, without sending an expedition from the capital or
adopting some other coercive manner involving excessive delay and ex-
pense. But now that the empire was thoroughly organized, and military
stations were established at many commanding points, no isolated dis-
turbances were possible except such as did not rise beyond the dignity of


Palestine generally towards the insurrection. It is absurd
to suppose that these cities undertook to revolt Avith the
backing of the Bedawin and semi-nomads alone. They
must have had the sympathy and support of more power-
ful neighbours. Who were their allies ? The description
given of the earlier conflicts with the desert warriors
(§ 787) makes it plain that Palestine east of the Jordan
was in active sympathy with the insurgents. But these
were also too remote from the outlying Phcenician seaports
to give them substantial help at need. The inference is ob-
vious that some considerable portion of western Palestine
had prompted these disturbances. Within this territory
there was now only one community in a position to take
such a step, namely, the kingdom of Judah. For with this
exception the whole country west of the Jordan was now
under direct Assyrian administration.

§ 790. Yet in the annals of Asshurbanipal, which re-
count these affairs so completely, there is no mention of
any uprising on the part of the Judaite monarchy. We
find indeed an allusion in the Hebrew literature itself which
appears to satisfy the requirements of the situation. In
2 Chr. xxxiii., after an account of the infidelity and idola-
trous practices of the king of Judah, Manasseh the son of
Hezekiah, the narrative goes on to relate (vs. 10-13) :
" And Jehovah spoke to Manasseh and to his people ; but
they gave no heed. And Jehovah brought upon them the
captains of the host of the king of Assyria. And they
made Manasseh prisoner with hooks, and bound him with
fetters, and led hira to Babylon. And when he was in dis-
tress he besought Jehovah his God, and humbled himself
greatl}' before the God of his fathers. And he pray(^'(l unto
him, and he was propitiated by him and heard his suppli-
cation, and restored him to Jerusalem to his kingdom. So
Manasseh knew that Jehovah was God." In trying to re-
gard this episode from the true historical standpoint we find
ourselves brought once more directly to our central theme
— Israel in its relations to its dominant environment. We


accordingly need to take a brief survey of the political his-
tory of Judah from the point where it was broken off, leaving
for later consideration its religious and moral features.

§ 791. The recuperation of the territory of Judah after
its desolation by the army of Sinacherib went on slowly
but surely for many years. The devastation was so wide-
spread and complete that it was not till the spring of 699
B.C. that agricultural operations were resumed on an exten-
sive scale (§ 721). The loss of over two hundred thousand
of the population, most of whom would naturally be heads
of families, placed a heavy burden on those who remained.
The repairing or rebuilding of the houses, the restoration of
city walls, the reclamation of fugitive children and rela-
tives, must have occupied many long and anxious months.
Jerusalem was indeed intact, and within its defences had
no doubt been gathered many from the surrounding coun-
try (cf. § 352). But within the forty-six fortified towns
taken by storm were also found many refugees whose fate
was death or exile. Moreover, the second inroad of Sin-
acherib (§ 696) must have taken the people by surprise,
and rendered access difficult to the central city of refuge.
Nothing is told us of the details of these pathetic attempts
to retrieve the irretrievable. While to multitudes it meant
the beginning of life over again, to the chastened Hezekiah
and his counsellors it meant the reconstruction of the state
upon new foundations.

§ 792. We must not suppose, however, that there had
been any serious loss of proper territory. True, Sinacherib
transferred (§ 675) certain districts formerly controlled
by Hezekiah to the domains of Ashdod, Ekron, and Gaza ;
but practically this amounted to little or nothing more
than the restitution of lands normally Philistian, of which
the king of Judah had despoiled these principalities (2 K.
xviii. 8 ; § 651). Their retention after the calamities of
Judah would in any case have been impossible.^ The

1 With a startling misconception of the condition of Judala after the
Assyrian invasion, Stade (GVI. I, 624) gives it as liis opinion that it was


prostration of Palestine generally after the Assyrian
scourge had done its work disinclined the petty com-
munities towards reciprocal aggression, and Judali was
at liberty to work out its own destiny, of course under the
continued overlordship of the Great King.

§ 793. Any thought of further revolt against Assyria
was out of the question. We grossly misconceive the
whole political situation if we suppose that the disaster
which befell the army of Sinacherib in the autumn of
701 weakened upon the whole the prestige of Assyria in the
West. Though Sinacherib and his forces had vanished,
the permanent garrisons remained in the country, and the
provinces were administered from Nineveh as before. The
retention of the fortresses of Palestine and all their bases of
supply was a matter vital to the very existence of the em-
pire. That Sinacherib did not succeed in conquering Jeru-
salem was no proof of inability to hold Palestine against all
comers. The least sign of waning power in the Mediter-
ranean coast-land would have been a virtual notification to
Egypt that she might enter in and take possession. But
the Assyrians had in 701 actually extended their direct
influence in Palestine, had besides beaten the Egyptians
out of that country, and had retired at last, not before a
more powerful enemy, but only before unmistakable por-
tents of celestial displeasure. Least of all could Judah,
prostrate, bleeding, and more than decimated, dream for
many a year of asserting an independence which at best
could be gained and maintained only by the help of a com-
bination of powerful nationalities. We do not forget the
failure and rebuff of Sinacherib. But the significance for
Jerusalem of that exceptional episode was simply this, that
it and its dependent territory were saved from becoming
an Assyrian province. There was a world-wide difference

at this later time that Judah acquired the riiilistiau territory mentioned
in 2 K. xviii. 8. That Ewald, History of Israel (Engl, tr.), iv. 180, held
a similar view was natural enough in his comparatively unenliglitened


between the continuance of such autonomous vassalage as
Hezekiah had inherited from his father, under the suze-
rainty which Sargon had passed on to Sinacherib, and an
obliteration of all political and social rights, along with the
religious disabilities which must surely have followed in its
train. On the other hand, the wreaking of vengeance upon
Jerusalem, such as that which was afterwards inflicted
upon Babylon (§ 740), was not beyond the bounds of pos-
sibility under a prince who had already shown himself to
be so cruel and remorseless. While Hezekiah and Isaiah
lived, no such tempting of Providence would again be ven-
tured as that which had brought almost total ruin upon
city and country alike. On the whole, Hezekiah and his
little " remnant " had enough to do to rebuild the shattered
fabric of the state, to restore the waste places of Judah,
and in general to cultivate the arts of peace and the ser-
vices of the religion of Jehovah, vindicated by the great

§ 794. Under ordinary conditions a country devas-
tated by the Assyrian armies might expect aid from the
conquerors themselves in its renewal and restoration. It
was an essential element in the imperial Assyrian policy
that, while rebels should be severely punished, their lands,
as tributary to the empire, should be conserved and devel-
oped. Hence it was a necessary feature of the system of
deportation that, in place of the nations of the country,
who were transplanted to remote districts also under the
sway of the Great King, others should be introduced, with
the twofold purpose of habituating them to direct control
from Nineveh, and of promoting the productiveness of the
land and its prospective value to the empire. The wisest
and best of the Assyrian kings adopted this policy towards
Samaria long after its conquest (see § 799). Sinacherib,
after wasting the country of Judah with fire and sword, left
it to itself. The attitude of the conqueror towards Judah
was, in all respects, exceptional and notable. Why he
should not have occupied it after its devastation, contigu-


ous as it was to other Assyrian possessions, and easily kept
under control, can only be accounted for on the liypothesis
of his aversion to having any further dealings with a land
so ill-omened for Assyria (§ 732). Such neglect of a
country whose ruin he had well nigh accomplished, while
it may have retarded its material development, was never-
theless of moral and religious advantage to the surviving

§ 795. In caring for the kingdom thus remitted to his
charge by the Assyrian invader, and in cariying out more
earnest and effective measures for the reformation of re-
ligion, the remaining ten years of the life of Hezekiah
passed peacefully away. The political quiet which reigned
throughout the land, while it was favourable to the former
task (§ 791 f.), was equally so to the latter. The whole-
some lesson had been taught more powerfully by the prac-
tical discipline of war and devastation than by the appeals
and denunciations of Isaiah, that plots and conspiracies
and seditions against Assyria only unfitted the Hebrew
people for their true mission. It put into clear relief the

Online LibraryJames Frederick McCurdyHistory, prophecy and the monuments (Volume 2) → online text (page 34 of 39)