The struggle of Sennacherib with Judaea and Egypt -- Destruction of Babylon.
Sennacherib either failed to inherit his father's good fortune, or lacked his ability.* He was not deficient in military genius, nor in the energy necessary to withstand the various enemies who rose against him at widely removed points of his frontier, but he had neither the adaptability of character nor the delicate tact required to manage successfully the heterogeneous elements combined under his sway.
* The two principal documents for the reign of Sennacherib are engraved on cylinders: the Taylor Cylinder and the Bellino Cylinder, duplicates of which, more or less perfect, exist in the collections of the British Museum. The Taylor Cylinder, found at Kouyunjik or Usebi-Yunus, contains the history or the first eight years of this reign; the Bellino Cylinder treats of the two first years of the reign.
He lacked the wisdom to conciliate the vanquished, or opportunely to check his own repressive measures; he destroyed towns, massacred entire tribes, and laid whole tracts of country waste, and by failing to repeople these with captive exiles from other nations, or to import colonists in sufficient numbers, he found himself towards the end of his reign ruling over a sparsely inhabited desert where his father had bequeathed to him flourishing provinces and populous cities. His was the system of the first Assyrian conquerors, Shalmaneser III. and Assur-nazir-pal, substituted for that of Tiglath-pileser III. and Sargon. The assimilation of the conquered peoples to their conquerors was retarded, tribute was no longer paid regularly, and the loss of revenue under this head was not compensated by the uncertain increase in the spoils obtained by war; the recruiting of the army, rendered more difficult by the depopulation of revolted districts, weighed heavier still on those which remained faithful, and began, as in former times, to exhaust the nation. The news of Sargon's murder, published throughout the Eastern world, had rekindled hope in the countries recently subjugated by Assyria, as well as in those hostile to her. Phoenicia, Egypt, Media, and Elam roused themselves from their lethargy and anxiously awaited the turn which events should take at Nineveh and Babylon. Sennacherib did not consider it to his interest to assume the crown of Chaldaea, and to treat on a footing of absolute equality a country which had been subdued by force of arms: he relegated it to the rank of a vassal state, and while reserving the suzerainty for himself, sent thither one of his brothers to rule as king.*
* The events which took place at Babylon at the beginning of Sennacherib's reign are known to us from the fragments of Berosus, compared with the Canon of Ptolemy and Pinches' Babylonian Canon. The first interregnum in the Canon of Ptolemy (704-702 B.C.) is filled in Pinches' Canon by three kings who are said to have reigned as follows: Sennacherib, two years; Marduk-zakir-shumu, one month; Merodach-baladan, nine months. Berosus substitutes for Sennacherib one of his brothers, whose name apparently he did not know; and this is the version I have adopted, in agreement with most modern historians, as best tallying with the evident lack of affection for Babylon displayed by Sennacherib throughout his reign.
The Babylonians were indignant at this slight. Accustomed to see their foreign ruler conform to their national customs, take the hands of Bel, and assume or receive from them a new throne-name, they could not resign themselves to descend to the level of mere tributaries: in less than two years they rebelled, assassinated the king who had been imposed upon them, and proclaimed in his stead Marduk-zakir-shumu,* who was merely the son of a female slave (704 B.C.).
* The servile origin of this personage is indicated in Pinches' Babylonian Canon; he might, however, be connected through his father with a princely, or even a royal, family, and thereby be in a position to win popular support. Among modern Assyriologists, some suppose that the name Akises in Berosus is a corruption of [Marduk-]zakir[shumu]; others consider Akises-Akishu as being the personal name of the king, and Marduk-zakir-shumu his throne-name.
This was the signal for a general insurrection in Chaldaea and the eastern part of the empire. Merodach-baladan, who had remained in hiding in the valleys on the Elamite frontier since his defeat in 709 B.C., suddenly issued forth with his adherents, and marched at once to Babylon; the very news of his approach caused a sedition, in the midst of which Marduk-zakir-shumu perished, after having reigned for only one month. Merodach-baladan re-entered his former capital, and as soon as he was once more seated on the throne, he endeavoured to form alliances with all the princes, both small and great, who might create a diversion in his favour. His envoys obtained promises of help from Elam; other emissaries hastened to Syria to solicit the alliance of Hezekiah, and might have even proceeded to Egypt if their sovereign's good fortune had lasted long enough.* But Sennacherib did not waste his opportunities in lengthy-preparations.
* 2 Kings xx.12-19; Isa. xxxix. The embassy to Hezekiah has been assigned to the first reign of Merodach-baladan, under Sargon. In accordance with the information obtained from the Assyrian monuments, it seems to me that it could only have taken place during his second reign, in 703 B.C.
The magnificent army left by Sargon was at his disposal, and summoning it at once into the field, he advanced on the town of Kish, where the Kalda monarch was entrenched with his Aramaean forces and the Elamite auxiliaries furnished by Shutruk-nakhunta. The battle issued in the complete rout of the confederate forces. Merodach-baladan fled almost unattended, first to Guzum-manu, and then to the marshes of the Tigris, where he found a temporary refuge; the troops who were despatched in pursuit followed him for five days, and then, having failed to secure the fugitive, gave up the search.*
* The detail is furnished by the Bellino Cylinder. Berosus affirmed that Merodach-baladan was put to death by Belibni.
His camp fell into the possession of the victor, with all its contents -- chariots, horses, mules, camels, and herds of cattle belonging to the commissariat department of the army: Babylon threw open its gates without resistance, hoping, no doubt, that Sennacherib would at length resolve to imitate the precedent set by his father and retain the royal dignity for himself. He did, indeed, consent to remit the punishment for this first insurrection, and contented himself with pillaging the royal treasury and palace, but he did not deign to assume the crown, conferring it on Belibni, a Babylonian of noble birth, who had been taken, when quite a child, to Nineveh and educated there under the eyes of Sargon.*
* The name is transcribed Belibos in Greek, and it seems as if the Assyrian variants justify the pronunciation Belibush.
While he was thus reorganising the government, his generals were bringing the campaign to a close: they sacked, one after another, eighty-nine strongholds and eight hundred and twenty villages of the Kalda; they drove out the Arabian and Aramaean garrisons which Merodach-baladan had placed in the cities of Karduniash, in Urak, Nipur, Kuta, and Kharshag-kalamma, and they re-established Assyrian supremacy over all the tribes on the east of the Tigris up to the frontiers of Elam, the Tumuna, the Ubudu, the Gambulu, and the Khindaru, as also over the Nabataeans and Hagarenes, who wandered over the deserts of Arabia to the west of the mouths of the Euphrates. The booty was enormous: 208,000 prisoners, both male and female, 7200 horses, 11,073 asses, 5230 camels, 80,100 oxen, 800,500 sheep, made their way like a gigantic horde of emigrants to Assyria under the escort of the victorious army. Meanwhile the Khirimmu remained defiant, and showed not the slightest intention to submit: their strongholds had to be attacked and the inhabitants annihilated before order could in any way be restored in the country. The second reign of Merodach-baladan had lasted barely nine months.
The blow which ruined Merodach-baladan broke up the coalition which he had tried to form against Assyria. Babylon was the only rallying-point where states so remote, and such entire strangers to each other as Judah and Elam, could enter into friendly relations and arrange a plan of combined action. Having lost Babylon as a centre, they were once more hopelessly isolated, and had no means of concerting measures against the common foe: they renounced all offensive action, and waited under arms to see how the conqueror would deal with each severally. The most threatening storm, however, was not that which was gathering over Palestine, even were Egypt to be drawn into open war: for a revolt of the western provinces, however serious, was never likely to lead to disastrous complications, and the distance from Pelusium to the Tigris was too great for a victory of the Pharaoh to compromise effectually the safety of the empire. On the other hand, should intervention on the part of Elam in the affairs of Babylon or Media be crowned with success, the most disastrous consequences might ensue: it would mean the loss of Karduniash, or of the frontier districts won with such difficulty by Tiglath-pileser III. and Sargon; it would entail permanent hostilities on the Tigris and the Zab, and perhaps the appearance of barbarian troops under the walls of Calah or of Nineveh. Elam had assisted Merodach-baladan, and its soldiers had fought on the plains of Kish. Months had elapsed since that battle, yet Shutruk-nakhunta showed no disposition to take the initiative: he accepted his defeat at all events for the time, but though he put off the day of reckoning till a more favourable opportunity, it argued neither weakness nor discouragement, and he was ready to give a fierce reception to any Assyrian monarch who should venture within his domain. Sennacherib, knowing both the character and resources of the Elamite king, did not attempt to meet him in the open field, but wreaked his resentment on the frontier tribes who had rebelled at the instigation of the Elamites, on the Cossoans, on Ellipi and its king Ishpabara. He pursued the inhabitants into the narrow valleys and forests of the Khoatras, where his chariots were unable to follow: proceeding with his troops, sometimes on horseback, at other times on foot, he reduced Bit-kilamzak, Khardishpi, and Bit-kubatti to ashes, and annexed the territories of the Cossoans and the Yasubigalla to the prefecture of Arrapkha. Thence he entered Ellipi, where Ishpabara did not venture to come to close quarters with him in the open field, but led him on from town to town. He destroyed the two royal seats of Marubishti and Akkuddu, and thirty-four of their dependent strongholds; he took possession of Zizirtu, Kummalu, the district of Bitbarru, and the city of Elinzash, to which he gave the name Kar-Sennacherib, -- the fortress of Sennacherib, -- and annexed them to the government of Kharkhar. The distant Medes, disquieted at his advance, sent him presents, and renewed the assurances of devotion they had given to Sargon, but Sennacherib did not push forward into their territory as his predecessors had done: he was content to have maintained his authority as far as his outlying posts, and to have strengthened the Assyrian empire by acquiring some well-situated positions near the main routes which led from the Iranian table-land to the plains of Mesopotamia. Having accomplished this, he at once turned his attention towards the west, where the spirit of rebellion was still active in the countries bordering on the African frontier. Sabaco, now undisputed master of Egypt, was not content, like Pionkhi, to bring Egypt proper into a position of dependence, and govern it at a distance, by means of his generals. He took up his residence within it, at least during part of every year, and played the role of Pharaoh so well that his Egyptian subjects, both at Thebes and in the Delta, were obliged to acknowledge his sovereignty and recognise him as the founder of a new dynasty. He kept a close watch over the vassal princes, placing garrisons in Memphis and the other principal citadels, and throughout the country he took in hand public works which had been almost completely interrupted for more than a century owing to the civil wars: the highways were repaired, the canals cleaned out and enlarged, and the foundations of the towns raised above the level of the inundation. Bubastis especially profited under his rule, and regained the ascendency it had lost ever since the accession of the second Tanite dynasty; but this partiality was not to the detriment of other cities. Several of the temples at Memphis were restored, and the inscriptions effaced by time were re-engraved. Thebes, happy under the government of Amenertas and her husband Pionkhi, profited largely by the liberality of its Ethiopian rulers. At Luxor Sabaco restored the decoration of the principal gateway between the two pylons, and repaired several portions of the temple of Amon at Karnak. History subsequently related that, in order to obtain sufficient workmen, he substituted forced labour for the penalty of death: a policy which, beside being profitable, would win for him a reputation for clemency. Egypt, at length reduced to peace and order, began once more to flourish, and to display that inherent vitality of which she had so often given proof, and her reviving prosperity attracted as of old the attention of foreign powers. At the beginning of his reign, Sabaco had attempted to meddle in the intrigues of Syria, but the ease with which Sargon had quelled the revolt of Ashdod had inspired the Egyptian monarch with salutary distrust in his own power; he had sent presents to the conqueror and received gifts in exchange, which furnished him with a pretext for enrolling the Asiatic peoples among the tributary nations whose names he inscribed on his triumphal lists.* Since then he had had some diplomatic correspondence with his powerful neighbour, and a document bearing his name was laid up in the archives at Calah, where the clay seal once attached to it has been discovered. Peace had lasted for a dozen years, when he died about 703 B.C., and his son Shabitoku ascended the throne.**
* It was probably with reference to this exchange of presents that Sabaco caused the bas-relief at Karnak to be engraved, in which he represents himself as victorious over both Asiatics and Africans.
** One version of Manetho assigns twelve years to the reign of Sabaco, and this duration is confirmed by an inscription in Hammamat, dated in his twelfth year. Sabaco having succeeded to the throne in 716-715 B.C., his reign brings us down to 704 or 703 B.C., which obliges us to place the accession of Shabi-toku in the year following the death of Sargon.
[Illustration: 011.jpg clay seal with cartouche of sabaco]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Layard.
The temporary embarrassments in which the Babylonian revolution had plunged Sennacherib must have offered a tempting opportunity for interference to this inexperienced king. Tyre and Judah alone of all the Syrian states retained a sufficiently independent spirit to cherish any hope of deliverance from the foreign yoke. Tyre still maintained her supremacy over Southern Phoenicia, and her rulers were also kings of Sidon.* The long reign of Eth-baal and his alliance with the kings of Israel had gradually repaired the losses occasioned by civil discord, and had restored Tyre to the high degree of prosperity which it had enjoyed under Hiram. Few actual facts are known which can enlighten us as to the activity which prevailed under Eth-baal: we know, however, that he rebuilt the small town of Botrys, which had been destroyed in the course of some civil war, and that he founded the city of Auza in Libyan territory, at the foot of the mountains of Aures, in one of the richest mineral districts of modern Algeria.**
* Eth-baal II., who, according to the testimony of the native historians, belonged to the royal family of Tyre, is called King of the Sidonians in the Bible (1 Kings xvi.31), and the Assyrian texts similarly call Elulai King of the Sidonians, while Menander mentions him as King of Tyre. It is probable that the King of Sidon, mentioned in the Annals of Shal-maneser III. side by side with the King of Tyre, was a vassal of the Tyrian monarch.
** The two facts are preserved in a passage of Menander. I admit the identity of the Auza mentioned in this fragment with the Auzea of Tacitus, and with the Colonia Septimia Aur. Auziensium of the Roman inscriptions the present Aumale.
In 876 B.C. Assur-nazir-pal had crossed the Lebanon and skirted the shores of the Mediterranean: Eth-baal, naturally compliant, had loaded him with gifts, and by this opportune submission had preserved his cities and country from the horrors of invasion.*
* The King of Tyre who sent gifts to Assur-nazir-pal is not named in the Assyrian documents: our knowledge of Tyrian chronology permits us with all probability to identify him with Eth-baal.
Twenty years later Shalmaneser III. had returned to Syria, and had come into conflict with Damascus. The northern Phoenicians formed a league with Ben-hadad (Adadidri) to withstand him, and drew upon themselves the penalty of their rashness; the Tynans, faithful to their usual policy, preferred to submit voluntarily and purchase peace. Their conduct showed the greater wisdom in that, after the death of Eth-baal, internal troubles again broke out with renewed fierceness and with even more disastrous results. His immediate successor was Balezor (854-846 B.C.), followed by Mutton I. (845-821 B.C.), who flung himself at the feet of Shalmaneser III., in 842 B.c., in the camp at Baalirasi, and renewed his homage three years later, in 839 B.C. The legends concerning the foundation of Carthage blend with our slight knowledge of his history. They attribute to Mutton I. a daughter named Elissa, who was married to her uncle Sicharbal, high priest of Melkarth, and a young son named Pygmalion (820-774 B.c.). Sicharbal had been nominated by Mutton as regent during the minority of Pygmalion, but he was overthrown by the people, and some years later murdered by his ward. From that time forward Elissa's one aim was to avenge the murder of her husband. She formed a conspiracy which was joined by all the nobles, but being betrayed and threatened with death, she seized a fleet which lay ready to sail in the harbour, and embarking with all her adherents set sail for Africa, landing in the district of Zeugitane, where the Sidonians had already built Kambe. There she purchased a tract of land from larbas, chief of the Liby-phoenicians, and built on the ruins of the ancient factory a new town, Qart-hadshat, which the Greeks called Carchedo and the Romans Carthage. The genius of Virgil has rendered the name of Dido illustrious: but history fails to recognise in the narratives which form the basis of his tale anything beyond a legendary account fabricated after the actual origin (814-813 B.C.) of the great Punic city had been forgotten. Thus weakened, Tyre could less than ever think of opposing the ambitious designs of Assyria: Pygmalion took no part in the rebellions of the petty Syrian kings against Samsi-ramman, and in 803 B.C. he received his suzerain Ramman-nirari with the accustomed gifts, when that king passed through Phoenicia before attacking Damascus. Pygmalion died about 774 B.C., and the names of his immediate successors are not known;* it may be supposed, however, that when the power of Nineveh temporarily declined, the ties which held Tyre to Assyria became naturally relaxed, and the city released herself from the burden of a tribute which had in the past been very irregularly paid.
* The fragment of Menander 'which has preserved for us the list of Tyrian kings from Abi-baal to Pygmalion, was only quoted by Josephus, because, the seventh year of Pygmalion's reign corresponding to the date of the foundation of Carthage, -- 814 -- 813 B.C. according to the chronological system of Timssus, -- the Hebrew historian found in it a fixed date which seemed to permit of his establishing the chronology of the kings of Israel and Judah on a trustworthy basis between the reign of Pygmalion and Hiram I., the contemporary of David and Solomon.
The yoke was reassumed half a century later, at the mere echo of the first victories of Tiglath-pileser III.; and Hiram II., who then reigned in Tyre, hastened to carry to the camp at Arpad assurances of his fidelity (742 B.C.). He gave pledges of his allegiance once more in 738 B.C.; then he disappears, and Mutton II. takes his place about 736 B.C. This king cast off, unhappily for himself, his hereditary apathy, and as soon as a pretext offered itself, abandoned the policy of neutrality to which his ancestors had adhered so firmly. He entered into an alliance in 734 B.C. with Damascus, Israel and Philistia, secretly supported and probably instigated by Egypt; then, when Israel was conquered and Damascus overthrown, he delayed repairing his error till an Assyrian army appeared before Tyre: he had then to pay the price of his temerity by 120 talents of gold and many loads of merchandise (728 B.C.). The punishment was light and the loss inconsiderable in comparison with the accumulated wealth of the city, which its maritime trade was daily increasing:* Mutton thought the episode was closed,** but the peaceful policy of his house, having been twice interrupted, could not be resumed.
*[For a description of the trade carried on by Tyre, cf. Ezelc. xxvi., xxvii., and xxviii. -- -Tr.]
** Pygmalion having died about 774 B.C., and Hiram II. not appearing till 742 B.C., it is probable that we should intercalate between these two Kings at least one sovereign whose name is still unknown.
Southern Phoenicia, having once launched on the stream of Asiatic politics, followed its fluctuations, and was compelled henceforth to employ in her own defence the forces which had hitherto been utilised in promoting her colonial enterprises. But it was not due to the foolish caprice of ignorant or rash sovereigns that Tyre renounced her former neutral policy: she was constrained to do so, almost perforce, by the changes which had taken place in Europe. The progress of the Greeks, and their triumph in the waters of the AEgean and Ionian Seas, and the rapid expansion of the Etruscan navy after the end of the ninth century, had gradually restricted the Phoenician merchantmen to the coasts of the Western Mediterranean and the Atlantic: they industriously exploited the mineral wealth of Africa and Spain, and traffic with the barbarous tribes of Morocco and Lusitania, as well as the discovery and working of the British tin mines, had largely compensated for the losses occasioned by the closing of the Greek and Italian markets. Their ships, obliged now to coast along the inhospitable cliffs of Northern Africa and to face the open sea, were more strongly and scientifically built than any vessels hitherto constructed. The Egyptian undecked galleys, with stem and stern curving inwards, were discarded as a build ill adapted to resist the attacks of wind or wave. The new Phoenician galley had a long, low, narrow, well-balanced hull, the stern raised and curving inwards above the steersman, as heretofore, but the bows pointed and furnished with a sharp ram projecting from the keel, equally serviceable to cleave the waves or to stave in the side of an enemy's ship. Motive power was supplied by two banks of oars, the upper ones resting in rowlocks on the gunwale, the lower ones in rowlocks pierced in the timbers of the vessel's side. An upper deck, supported by stout posts, ran from stem to stern, above the heads of the rowers, and was reserved for the soldiers and the rest of the crew: on a light railing surrounding it were hung the circular shields of the former, forming as it were a rampart on either side.
[Illustration: 017.jpg A PHOENICIAN GALLEY WITH TWO BANKS OF OARS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard. Sennacherib affirms that vessels of this type had been constructed by Syrian shipwrights, and were manned by Tyrian, Sidonian, and Ionian sailors.
The mast, passing through both decks, was firmly fixed in the keel, and was supported by two stays made fast to stem and stern. The rectangular sail was attached to a yard which could be hoisted or lowered at will. The wealth which accrued to the Tyrians from their naval expeditions had rendered the superiority of Tyre over the neighbouring cities so manifest that they had nearly all become her vassals. Arvad and Northern Phoenicia were still independent, as also the sacred city of Bylos, but the entire coast from the Nahr-el-Kelb to the headland formed by Mount Carmel was directly subject to Tyre,* comprising the two Sidons, Bit-ziti, and Sarepta, the country from Mahalliba to the fords of the Litany, Ushu and its hinterland as far as Kana, Akzib, Akko, and Dora; and this compact territory, partly protected by the range of Lebanon, and secured by the habitual prudence of its rulers from the invasions which had desolated Syria, formed the most flourishing, and perhaps also the most populous, kingdom which still existed between the Euphrates and the Egyptian desert.**
* The kings of Arvad and Byblos are still found mentioned at the beginning of Sennacherib's reign.
** The extent of the kingdom of Tyro is indicated by the passage in which Sennacherib enumerated the cities which he had taken from Elulai. To these must be added Dor, to the south of Carmel, which was always regarded as belonging to the Tyrians, and whose isolated position between the headland, the sea, and the forest might cause the Assyrians to leave it unmolested.
Besides these, some parts of Cyprus were dependent on Tyre, though the Achaean colonies, continually reinforced by fresh immigrants, had absorbed most of the native population and driven the rest into the mountains.
[Illustration: 018.jpg MAP OF KINGDOM OF TYRE, THE CAMPAIGN OF SENNACHERIB]
A hybrid civilisation had developed among these early Greek settlers, amalgamating the customs, religions, and arts of the ancient eastern world of Egypt, Syria, and Chaldoa in variable proportions: their script was probably derived from one of the Asianic systems whose monuments are still but partly known, and it consisted of a syllabary awkwardly adapted to a language for which it had not been designed. A dozen petty kings, of whom the majority were Greeks, disputed possession of the northern and eastern parts of the island, at Idalion, Khytros, Paphos, Soli, Kourion, Tamassos, and Ledron. The Phoenicians had given way at first before the invaders, and had grouped themselves in the eastern plain round Kition; they had, however, subsequently assumed the offensive, and endeavoured to regain the territory they had lost. Kition, which had been destroyed in one of their wars, had been rebuilt, and thus obtained the name of Qart-hadshat, |the new city.|*
* The name of this city, at first read as Amtikhadashti, and identified with Ammokhostos or with Amathous, -- Amti- Khadash would in this case be equivalent to New
Amathous, -- is really Karti-Khadashti, as is proved by the variant reading discovered by Schrader, and this is identical with the native name of Carthage in Africa. This new city must have been of some antiquity by the time of Elulai, for it is mentioned on a fragment of a bronze vase found in Cyprus itself: this fragment belonged to a King Hiram, who according to some authorities would be Hiram II., according to others, Hiram I.
Mutton's successor, Elulai, continued, as we know, the work of defence and conquest: perhaps it was with a view to checking his advance that seven kings of Cyprus sent an embassy, in 709 B.C., to his suzerain, Sargon, and placed themselves under the protection of Assyria. If this was actually the case, and Elulai was compelled to suspend hostilities against these hereditary foes, one can understand that this grievance, added to the reasons for uneasiness inspired by the situation of his continental dominions, may have given him the desire to rid himself of the yoke of Assyria, and contributed to his resolution to ally himself with the powers which were taking up arms against her. The constant intercourse of his subjects with the Delta, and his natural anxiety to avoid anything which might close one of the richest markets of the world to the Tyrian trade, inclined him to receive favourably the overtures of the Pharaoh: the emissaries of Shabitoku found him as much disposed as Hezekiah himself to begin the struggle. The latter monarch, who had ascended the throne while still very young, had at first shown no ambition beyond the carrying out of religious reforms. His father Ahaz had been far from orthodox, in spite of the influence exerted over him by Isaiah. During his visit to Tiglath-pileser at Damascus (729 B.C.) he had noticed an altar whose design pleased him. He sent a description of it to the high priest Urijah, with orders to have a similar one constructed, and erected in the court of the temple at Jerusalem: this altar he appropriated to his personal use, and caused the priests to minister at it, instead of at the old altar, which he relegated to an inferior position. He also effected changes in the temple furniture, which doubtless appeared to him old-fashioned in comparison with the splendours of the Assyrian worship which he had witnessed, and he made some alterations in the approaches to the temple, wishing, as far as we can judge, that the King of Judah should henceforth, like his brother of Nineveh, have a private, means of access to his national god.
This was but the least of his offences: for had he not offered his own son as a holocaust at the moment he felt himself most menaced by the league of Israel and Damascus? Among the people themselves there were many faint-hearted and faithless, who, doubting the power of the God of their forefathers, turned aside to the gods of the neighbouring nations, and besought from them the succour they despaired of receiving from any other source; the worship of Jahveh was confounded with that of Moloch in the valley of the children of Hinnom, where there was a sanctuary or Tophet, at which the people celebrated the most horrible rites: a large and fierce pyre was kept continually burning there, to consume the children whose fathers brought them to offer in sacrifice.* Isaiah complains bitterly of these unbelievers who profaned the land with their idols, |worshipping the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers had made.|** The new king, obedient to the divine command, renounced the errors of his father; he removed the fetishes with which the superstition of his predecessors had cumbered the temple, and which they had connected with the worship of Jahveh, and in his zeal even destroyed the ancient brazen serpent, the Nehushtan, the origin of which was attributed to Moses.***
* Isa. xxx.33, where the prophet describes the Tophet Jahveh's anger is preparing for Assyria.
** Isa. ii.8.
*** 2 Kings xviii.4. I leave the account of this religious reformation in the place assigned to it in the Bible; other historians relegate it to a time subsequent to the invasion of Sennacherib.
On the occasion of the revolt of Yamani, Isaiah counselled Hezekiah to remain neutral, and this prudence enabled him to look on in security at the ruin of the Philistines, the hereditary foes of his race. Under his wise administration the kingdom of Judah, secured against annoyance from envious neighbours by the protection which Assur freely afforded to its obedient vassals, and revived by thirty years of peace, rose rapidly from the rank of secondary importance which it had formerly been content to occupy. |Their land was full of silver and gold, neither was there any end of their treasures; their land also was full of horses, neither was there any end of their chariots.|*
* Isa. ii.7, where the description applies better to the later years of Ahaz or the reign, of Hezekiah than to the years preceding the war against Pekah and Rezin.
Now that the kingdom of Israel had been reduced to the condition of an Assyrian province, it was on Judah and its capital that the hopes of the whole Hebrew nation were centred.
Tyre and Jerusalem had hitherto formed the extreme outwork of the Syrian states; they were the only remaining barrier which separated the empires of Egypt and Assyria, and it was to the interest of the Pharaoh to purchase their alliance and increase their strength by every means in his power. Negotiations must have been going on for some time between the three powers, but up to the time of the death of Sargon and the return of Merodach-baladan to Babylon their results had been unimportant, and it was possible that the disasters which had befallen the Kalda would tend to cool the ardour of the allies. An unforeseen circumstance opportunely rekindled their zeal, and determined them to try their fortune.
[Illustration: 023.jpg MAP OF THE CAMPAIGN OF SENNACHERIB IN JUDEA]
The inhabitants of Ekron, dissatisfied with Padi, the chief whom the Assyrians had set over them, seized his person and sent him in chains to Hezekiah.*
* The name of the city, written Amgarruna, is really Akkaron-Ekron.
To accept the present was equivalent to open rebellion, and a declaration of war against the power of the suzerain. Isaiah, as usual, wished Judah to rely on Jahveh alone, and preached against alliance with the Babylonians, for he foresaw that success would merely result in substituting the Kalda for the Ninevite monarch, and in aggravating the condition of Judah. |All that is in thine house,| he said to Hezekiah, |and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the King of Babylon.| Hezekiah did not pay much heed to the prediction, for, he reflected, |peace and truth shall be in my days,| and the future troubled him little.* When the overthrow of Merodach-baladan had taken place, the prophet still more earnestly urged the people not to incur the vengeance of Assyria without other help than that of Tyre or Ethiopia, and Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, spoke in the same strain; but Shebna, the prefect of the palace, declaimed against this advice, and the latter's counsel prevailed with his master.**
* 2 Kings xx.16-19.
** This follows from the terms in which the prophet compares the two men (Isa. xxii.15-25).
Hezekiah agreed to accept the sovereignty over Ekron which its inhabitants offered to him, but a remnant of prudence kept him from putting Padi to death, and he contented himself with casting him into prison. Isaiah, though temporarily out of favour with the king, ceased not to proclaim aloud in all quarters the will of the Almighty. |Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel, but not of Me; and that cover with a covering (form alliances), but not of My spirit, that they may add sin to sin: that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at My mouth, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. When your princes shall be at Tanis, and your messengers shall come to Heracleopolis,* [Heb. Hanes. -- Tr.] you shall all be ashamed of a people that cannot profit you.... For Egypt helpeth in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I called her Rahab that sitteth still.|* He returned, unwearied and with varying imagery, to his theme, contrasting the uncertainty and frailty of the expedients of worldly wisdom urged by the military party, with the steadfast will of Jahveh and the irresistible authority with which He invests His faithful servants. |The Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit; and when the Lord shall stretch out His hand, both he that helpeth shall stumble, and he that is holpen shall fall, and they shall all fail together. For thus saith the Lord unto me, Like as when the lion growleth, and the young lion over his prey, if a multitude of shepherds be called forth against him, he will not be dismayed at their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the Lord of hosts come down to fight upon Mount Zion, and upon the hill thereof. As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts protect Jerusalem: He will protect and deliver it. Turn ye unto Him from whom ye have deeply revolted, O children of Israel.|**
* Isa. xxx.1-5, 7. In verses 4, 5, the original text employs the third person; I have restored the second person, to avoid confusion.
** Isa. xxxi.3-6.
No one, however, gave heed to his warnings, either king or people; but the example of Phoenicia soon proved that he was right. When Sennacherib bestirred himself, in the spring of 702 B.C., either the Ethiopians were not ready, or they dared not advance to encounter him in Coele-Syria, and they left Elulai to get out of his difficulties as best he might. He had no army to risk in a pitched battle; but fondly imagined that his cities, long since fortified, and protected on the east by the range of Lebanon, would offer a resistance sufficiently stubborn to wear out the patience of his assailant. The Assyrians, however, disconcerted his plans. Instead of advancing against him by the pass of Nahr-el-Kebir, according to their usual custom, they attacked him in flank, descending into the very midst of his positions by the col of Legnia or one of the neighbouring passes.* They captured in succession the two Sidons, Bit-ziti, Sarepta, Mahalliba, Ushu, Akzib, and Acco: Elulai, reduced to the possession of the island of Tyre alone, retreated to one of his colonies in Cyprus, where he died some years later, without having set foot again on the continent. All his former possessions on the mainland were given to a certain Eth-baal, who chose Sidon for his seat of government, and Tyre lost by this one skirmish the rank of metropolis which she had enjoyed for centuries.** This summary punishment decided all the Syrian princes who were not compromised beyond hope of pardon to humble themselves before the suzerain. Menahem of Samsi-muruna,***
* This follows from the very order in which the cities were taken in the course of this campaign.
** The Assyrian text gives for the name of the King of Sidon a shortened form Tu-baal instead of Eth-baal, paralleled by Lulia for Elulai.
*** Several of the early Assyriologists read Usi-muruna, and identified the city bearing this name with Samaria. The discovery of the reading Samsi-muruna on a fragment of the time of Assur-bani-pal no longer permits of this
identification, and obliges us to look for the city in Phoenicia.
Abdiliti of Arvad, Uru-malik of Byblos, Puduilu of Amnion, Chemosh-nadab of Moab, Malik-rammu of Edom, Mitinti of Ashdod, all brought their tribute in person to the Assyrian camp before Ushu: Zedekiah of Ashkelon and Hezekiah of Judah alone persisted in their hostility. Egypt had at length been moved by the misfortunes of her allies, and the Ethiopian troops had advanced to the seat of war, but they did not arrive in time to save Zedekiah: Sennacherib razed to the ground all his strongholds one after another, Beth-dagon, Joppa, Bene-berak, and Hazor,* took him prisoner at Ascalon, and sent him with his family to Assyria, setting up Sharludari, son of Bukibti, in his stead. Sennacherib then turned against Ekron, and was about to begin the siege of the city, when the long-expected Egyptians at length made their appearance. Shabitoku did not command them in person, but he had sent his best troops -- the contingents furnished by the petty kings of the Delta, and the sheikhs of the Sinaitic peninsula, who were vassals of Egypt. The encounter took place near Altaku,** and on this occasion again, as at Raphia, the scientific tactics of the Assyrians prevailed over the stereotyped organisation of Pharaoh's army: the Ethiopian generals left some of their chariots in the hands of the conqueror, and retreated with the remnants of their force beyond the Isthmus.
* These are the cities attributed to the tribes of Dan and Judah in Josh. xv.25, 41; xix.45. Beth-dagon is now Bet- Dejan; Azuru is Yazur, to the south-east of Joppa; Beni- barak is Ibn-Abrak, to the north-east of the same town.
** Altaku is certainly Eltekeh of Dan (Josh. xix.44), as was seen from the outset; the site, however, of Eltekeh cannot be fixed with any certainty. It has been located at Bet-Lukkieh, in the mountainous country north-west of Jerusalem, but this position in no way corresponds to the requirements of the Assyrian text, according to which the battle took place on a plain large enough for the evolutions of the Egyptian chariots, and situated between the group of towns formed by Beth-dagon, Joppa, Beni-barak, and Hazor, which Sennacherib had just captured, and the cities of Ekrbn, Timnath, and Eltekeh, which he took directly after his victory: a suitable locality must be looked for in the vicinity of Ramleh or Zernuka.
Altaku capitulated, an example followed by the neighbouring fortress of Timnath, and subsequently by Ekron itself, all three being made to feel Sennacherib's vengeance. |The nobles and chiefs who had offended, I slew,| he remarks, |and set up their corpses on stakes in a circle round the city; those of the inhabitants who had offended and committed crimes, I took them prisoners, and for the rest who had neither offended nor transgressed, I pardoned them.|
[Illustration: 028.jpg THE PASS OF LEGNIA, IN LEBANON]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph given in Lortet.
[Illustration: 028b.jpg Esneh -- Principal Abyssinian Trading Village]
We may here pause to inquire how Hezekiah was occupied while his fate was being decided on the field of Altaku. He was fortifying Jerusalem, and storing within it munitions of War, and enrolling Jewish soldiers and mercenary troops from the Arab tribes of the desert. He had suddenly become aware that large portions of the wall of the city of David had crumbled away, and he set about demolishing the neighbouring houses to obtain materials for repairing these breaches: he hastily strengthened the weak points in his fortifications, stopped up the springs which flowed into the Gibon, and cut off the brook itself, constructing a reservoir between the inner and outer city walls to store up the waters of the ancient pool. These alterations* rendered the city, which from its natural position was well defended, so impregnable that Sennacherib decided not to attack it until the rest of the kingdom had been subjugated: with this object in view he pitched his camp before Lachish, whence he could keep a watch over the main routes from Egypt where they crossed the frontier, and then scattered his forces over the land of Judah, delivering it up to pillage in a systematic manner. He took forty-six walled towns, and numberless strongholds and villages, demolishing the walls and leading into captivity 200,150 persons of all ages and conditions, together with their household goods, their horses, asses, mules, camels, oxen, and sheep;** it was a war as disastrous in its effects as that which terminated in the fall of Samaria, or which led to the final captivity in Babylon.***
* Isa. xxii.8-11.
* An allusion to the sojourn of Sennacherib near Lachish is found in 2 Kings xviii.14-17; xix.8, and in Isa. xxxvi.2; xxxvii.8
*** It seems that the Jewish historian Demetrios considered the captivities under Nebuchadrezzar and Sennacherib to be on the same footing.
The work of destruction accomplished, the Rabshakeh brought up all his forces and threw up a complete circle of earthworks round Jerusalem: Hezekiah found himself shut up in his capital |like a bird in a cage.| The inhabitants soon became accustomed to this isolated life, but Isaiah was indignant at seeing them indifferent to their calamities, and inveighed against them with angry eloquence: |What aileth thee now, that thou art wholly gone up to the housetops? O thou that art full of shoutings, a tumultuous city, a joyous town; thy slain are not slain with the sword, neither are they dead in battle. All thy rulers fled away together, they are made prisoners without drawing the bow; they are come hither from afar for safety, and all that meet together here shall be taken together.|*
* [The R.V. gives this passage as follows: |They were bound by the archers: all that were found of thee were bound together, they fled afar off.| -- TR.]
The danger was urgent; the Assyrians were massed in their entrenchments with their auxiliaries ranged behind them to support them: |Elam bare the quiver with chariots of men and horsemen, and Kir uncovered the shield (for the assault). And it came to pass that thy choicest valleys were full of chariots, and the horsemen set themselves in array at thy gate, and he took away the covering of Judah.|
[Illustration: 029.jpg SENNACHERIB RECEIVING THE SUBMISSIONS OF THE JEWS]
In those days, therefore, Jahveh, without pity for His people, called them to |weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth: and behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine: let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die. And the Lord of hosts revealed Himself in mine ears, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts.|* The prophet threw the blame on the courtiers especially Shebna, who still hoped for succour from the Egyptians, and kept up the king's illusions on this point. He threatened him with the divine anger; he depicted him as seized by Jahveh, rolled and kneaded into a lump, |and tossed like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there shall be the chariots of thy glory, thou shame of thy lord's house. And I will thrust thee from thy office, and from thy station he shall pull thee down!|** Meanwhile, day after day elapsed, and Pharaoh did not hasten to the rescue. Hezekiah's eyes were opened; he dismissed Shebna, and degraded him to the position of scribe, and set Eliakim in his place in the Council of State.***
* Isa. xxii.1-14.
** Isa. xxii.15-19.
***In the duplicate narrative of these negotiations with the Assyrian generals, Shebna is in fact considered as a mere scribe, while Eliakim is the prefect of the king's house (2 Kings xviii.18, 37; xix.2: Isa. xxxvi.3, 22; xxxvii.2).
Isaiah's influence revived, and he persuaded the king to sue for peace while yet there was time.
Sennacherib was encamped at Lachish; but the Tartan and his two lieutenants received the overtures of peace, and proposed a parley near the conduit of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller's field. Hezekiah did not venture to go in person to the meeting-place; he sent Eliakirn, the new prefect of the palace, Shebna, and the chancellor Joah, the chief cupbearer, and tradition relates that the Assyrian addressed them in severe terms in his master's name: |Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it: so is Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to all that trust on him.| Then, as he continued to declaim in a loud voice, so that the crowds gathered on the wall could hear him, the delegates besought him to speak in Aramaic, which they understood, but |speak not to us in the Jews' language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall!| Instead, however, of granting their request, the Assyrian general advanced towards the spectators and addressed them in Hebrew: |Hear ye the words of the great king, the King of Assyria. Let not Hezekiah deceive you; for he shall not be able to deliver you: neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be given into the hand of the King of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the King of Assyria, Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us!| The specified conditions were less hard than might have been feared.*
* The Hebrew version of these events is recorded in 2 Kings xviii.13-37; xix., and in Isa. xxxvi., xxxvii., with only one important divergence, namely, the absence from Isaiah of verses 14-16 of 2 Kings xviii. This particular passage, in which the name of the king has a peculiar form, is a detached fragment of an older document, perhaps the official annals of the kingdom, whose contents agreed with the facts recorded in the Assyrian text. The rest is borrowed from the cycle of prophetic narratives, and contains two different versions of the same events. The first comprises 2 Kings xviii.13, 17-37; xix. l-9a, 36&-37, where Sennacherib is represented as despatching a verbal message to Hezekiah by the Tartan and his captains. The second consists merely of 2 Kings xix.96-36a, and in this has been inserted a long prophecy of Isaiah's (xix.21-31) which has but a vague connection with the rest of the narrative. In this
Sennacherib defied Hezekiah in a letter, which the Jewish king spread before the Lord, and shortly afterwards received a reply through the prophet. The two versions were combined towards the end of the seventh or beginning of the sixth century, by the compiler of the Book of Kings, and passed thence into the collection of the prophecies attributed to Isaiah.
The Jewish king was to give up his wives and daughters as hostages, to pledge himself to pay a regular tribute, and disburse immediately a ransom of thirty talents of gold, and eight hundred talents of silver: he could only make up this large sum by emptying the royal and sacred treasuries, and taking down the plates of gold with which merely a short while before he had adorned the doors and lintels of the temple. Padi was released from his long captivity, reseated on his throne, and received several Jewish towns as an indemnity: other portions of territory were bestowed upon Mitinti of Ashdod and Zillibel of Graza as a reward for their loyalty.*
* The sequence of events is not very well observed in the Assyrian text, and the liberation of Padi is inserted in 11.8-11, before the account of the war with Hezekiah. It seems very unlikely that the King of Judah would have released his prisoner before his treaty with Sennacherib; the Assyrian scribe, wishing to bring together all the facts relating to Ekron, anticipated this event. Hebrew tradition fixed the ransom at the lowest figure, 300 talents of silver instead of the 800 given in the Assyrian document (2 Kings xviii.14), and authorities have tried to reconcile this divergence by speculating on the different values represented by a talent in different countries and epochs.
Hezekiah issued from the struggle with his territory curtailed and his kingdom devastated; the last obstacle which stood in the way of the Assyrians' victorious advance fell with him, and Sennacherib could now push forward with perfect safety towards the Nile. He had, indeed, already planned an attack on Egypt, and had reached the isthmus, when a mysterious accident arrested his further progress. The conflict on the plains of Altaku had been severe; and the army, already seriously diminished by its victory, had been still further weakened during the campaign in Judaea, and possibly the excesses indulged in by the soldiery had developed in them the germs of one of those terrible epidemics which had devastated Western Asia several times in the course of the century: whatever may have been the cause, half the army was destroyed by pestilence before it reached the frontier of the Delta, and Sennacherib led back the shattered remnants of his force to Nineveh.*
* The Assyrian texts are silent about this catastrophe, and the sacred books of the Hebrews seem to refer it to the camp at Libnah in Palestine (2 Kings xix.8-35); the Egyptian legend related by Herodotus seems to prove that it took place near the Egyptian frontier. Josephus takes the king as far as Pelusium, and describes the destruction of the Assyrian army as taking place in the camp before this town. He may have been misled by the meaning |mud,| which attaches to the name of Libnah as well as to that of Pelusium. Oppert upheld his opinion, and identified the Libnah of the biblical narrative with the Pelusium of Herodotus. It is probable that each of the two nations referred the scene of the miracle to a different locality.
The Hebrews did not hesitate to ascribe the event to the vengeance of Jahveh, and to make it a subject of thankfulness. They related that before their brutal conqueror quitted the country he had sent a parting message to Hezekiah: |Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the King of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezepk, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? Where is the King of Hamath, and the King of Arpad, and the King of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivvah?| Hezekiah, having received this letter of defiance, laid it in the temple before Jahveh, and prostrated himself in prayer: the response came to him through the mouth of Isaiah. |Thus saith the Lord concerning the King of Assyria, He shall not come unto this city, nor shoot an arrow there, neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor cast a mount against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and he shall not come unto this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for Mine own sake and for My servant David's sake. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred four-score and five thousand: and when men arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.|*
* 2 Kings xix.8-35; Isa. xxxvii.8-36; this is the second tradition of which mention has been made, but already amalgamated with the first to form the narrative as it now stands.
The Egyptians considered the event no less miraculous than did the Hebrews, and one of their popular tales ascribed the prodigy to Phtah, the god of Memphis. Sethon, the high priest of Phtah, lived in a time of national distress, and the warrior class, whom he had deprived of some of its privileges, refused to take up arms in his behalf. He repaired, therefore, to the temple to implore divine assistance, and, falling asleep, was visited by a dream. The god appeared to him, and promised to send him some auxiliaries who should ensure him success. He enlisted such of the Egyptians as were willing to follow him, shopkeepers, fullers, and sutlers, and led them to Pelusium to resist the threatened invasion. In the night a legion of field-mice came forth, whence no one knew, and, noiselessly spreading throughout the camp of the Assyrians, gnawed the quivers, the bowstrings, and the straps of the bucklers in such a way that, on the morrow, the enemy, finding themselves disarmed, fled after a mere pretence at resistance, and suffered severe losses. A statue was long shown in the temple at Memphis portraying this Sethon: he was represented holding a mouse in his hand, and the inscription bade men reverence the god who had wrought this miracle.*
* The statue with which this legend has been connected, must have represented a king offering the image of a mouse crouching on a basket, like the cynocephalus on the hieroglyphic sign which denotes centuries, or the frog of the goddess Hiqit. Historians have desired to recognise in Sethon a King Zet of the XXIIIth dynasty, or even Shabitoku of the XXVth dynasty; Krall identified him with Satni in the demotic story of Satni-Umois.
The disaster was a terrible one: Sennacherib's triumphant advance was suddenly checked, and he was forced to return to Asia when the goal of his ambition was almost reached. The loss of a single army, however much to be deplored, was not irreparable, since Assyria could furnish her sovereign with a second force as numerous as that which lay buried in the desert on the road to Egypt, but it was uncertain what effect the news of the calamity and the sight of the survivors might have on the minds of his subjects and rivals. The latter took no immediate action, and the secret joy which they must have experienced did not blind them to the real facts of the case; for though the power of Assyria was shaken, she was still stronger than any one of them severally, or even than all of them together, and to attack her or rebel against her now, was to court defeat with as much certainty as in past days. The Pharaoh kept himself behind his rivers; the military science and skill which had baffled his generals on the field of Altaku did not inspire him with any desire to reappear on the plains of Palestine. Hezekiah, King of Judah, had emptied his treasury to furnish his ransom, his strongholds had capitulated one by one, and his territory, diminished by the loss of some of the towns of the Shephelah, was little botter than a waste of smoking ruins. He thought himself fortunate to have preserved his power under the suzerainty of Assyria, and his sole aim for many years was to refill his treasury, reconstitute his army, and re-establish his kingdom. The Philistine and Nabatasan princes, and the chiefs of Moab, Ammon, and Idumsea, had nothing to gain by war, being too feeble to have any chance of success without the help of Judah, Tyre, and Egypt. The Syrians maintained a peaceful attitude, which was certainly their wisest policy; and during the following quarter of a century they loyally obeyed their governors, and gave Sennacherib no cause to revisit them. It was fortunate for him that they did so, for the peoples of the North and East, the Kalda, and, above all, the Elamites, were the cause of much trouble, and exclusively occupied his attention during several years. The inhabitants of Bit-Yakin, urged on either by their natural restlessness or by the news of the misfortune which had befallen their enemy, determined once more to try the fortunes of war. Incited by Marduk-ushezlb,* one of their princes, and by Merodach-baladan, these people of the marshes intrigued with the courts of Babylon and Susa, and were emboldened to turn against the Assyrian garrisons stationed in their midst to preserve order. Sennacherib's vengeance fell first on Marduk-ushezib, who fled from his stronghold of Bittutu after sustaining a short siege. Merodach-baladan, deserted by his accomplice, put the statues of his gods and his royal treasures on board his fleet, and embarking with his followers, crossed the lagoon, and effected a landing in the district of Nagitu, in Susian territory, beyond the mouth of the Ulai.** Sennacherib entered Bit-Yakin without striking a blow, and completed the destruction of the half-deserted town; he next proceeded to demolish the other cities one after the other, carrying off into captivity all the men and cattle who fell in his way.
* Three kings of Babylon at this period bore very similar names -- Marduk-ushezib, Nergal-ushezib, and Mushezib-marduk. Nergal-ushezib is the elder of the two whom the texts call Shuzub, and whom Assyriologists at first confused one with another.
** Nagitu was bounded by the Nar-Marratum and the Ulai, which allows us to identify it with the territory south of Edrisieh.
The Elamites, disconcerted by the rapidity of his action, allowed him to crush their allies unopposed; and as they had not openly intervened, the conqueror refrained from calling them to account for their intrigues. Babylon paid the penalty for all: its sovereign, Belibni, who had failed to make the sacred authority of the suzerain respected in the city, and who, perhaps, had taken some part in the conspiracy, was with his family deported to Nineveh, and his vacant throne was given to Assur-nadin-shumu, a younger son of Sargon (699 B.C.).*
* Berosus, misled by the deposition of Belibni, thought that the expedition was directed against Babylon itself; he has likewise confounded Assur-nadin-shumu with Esar-haddon, and he has given this latter, whom he calls Asordancs, as the immediate successor of Belibni. The date 699 B.C. for these events is indicated in Pinches' Babylonian Chronicle, which places them in the third year of Belibni.
Order was once more restored in Karduniash, but Sennacherib felt that its submission would be neither sincere nor permanent, so long as Merodach-baladan was hovering on its frontier possessed of an army, a fleet, and a supply of treasure, and prepared to enter the lists as soon as circumstances seemed favourable to his cause. Sennacherib resolved, therefore, to cross the head of the Persian Gulf and deal him such a blow as would once for all end the contest; but troubles which broke out on the Urartian frontier as soon as he returned forced, him to put off his project. The tribes of Tumurru, who had placed their strongholds like eyries among the peaks of Nipur, had been making frequent descents on the plains of the Tigris, which they had ravaged unchecked by any fear of Assyrian power. Sennacherib formed an entrenched camp at the foot of their mountain retreat, and there left the greater part of his army, while he set out on an adventurous expedition with a picked body of infantry and cavalry. Over ravines and torrents, up rough and difficult slopes, they made their way, the king himself being conveyed in a litter, as there were no roads practicable for his royal chariot; he even deigned to walk when the hillsides were too steep for his bearers to carry him; he climbed like a goat, slept on the bare rocks, drank putrid water from a leathern bottle, and after many hardships at length came up with the enemy. He burnt their villages, and carried off herds of cattle and troops of captives; but this exploit was more a satisfaction of his vanity than a distinct advantage gained, for the pillaging of the plains of the Tigris probably recommenced as soon as the king had quitted the country. The same year he pushed as far as Dayaini, here similar tactics were employed. Constructing a camp in the neighbourhood of Mount Anara and Mount Uppa, he forced his way to the capital, Ukki, traversing a complicated network of gorges and forests which had hitherto been considered impenetrable. The king, Maniya, fled; Ukki was taken by assault and pillaged, the spoil obtained from it slightly exceeding that from Tumurru (699 B.C.). Shortly afterwards the province of Tulgarimme revolted in concert with the Tabal: Sennacherib overcame the allied forces, and led his victorious regiments through the defiles of the Taurus.*
* The dates of and connection between these two wars are not determined with any certainty. Some authorities assign them both to the same year, somewhere between 699 and 696 B.C., while others assign them to two different years, the first to 699 or 696 B.C., the second to 698 or 695 B.C.
[Illustration: 042.jpg A RAID AMONG THE WOODS AND MOUNTAINS.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layahd, Monuments of Nineveh, vol. i. pi.70.
Greek pirates or colonists having ventured from time to time to ravage the seaboard, he destroyed one of their fleets near the mouth of the Saros, and took advantage of his sojourn in this region to fortify the two cities of Tarsus and Ankhiale, to defend his Cilician frontier against the peoples of Asia Minor.*
* The encounter of the Assyrians with the Greeks is only known to us from a fragment of Berosus. The foundation of Tarsus is definitely attributed to Sennacherib in the same passage; that of Ankhialc is referred to the fabulous Sardanapalus, but most historians with much probability attribute the foundation to Sennacherib.
This was a necessary precaution, for the whole of Asia Minor was just then stirred by the inrush of new nations which were devastating the country, and the effect of these convulsions was beginning to be felt in the country to the south of the central plain, at the foot of the Taurus, and on the frontiers of the Assyrian empire. Barbarian hordes, attracted by the fame of the ancient Hittite sanctuaries in the upper basin of the Euphrates and the Araxes, had descended now and again to measure their strength against the advanced posts of Assyria or Urartu, but had subsequently withdrawn and disappeared beyond the Halys. Their movements may at this time have been so aggressive as to arouse serious anxiety in the minds of the Ninevite rulers; it is certain that Sennacherib, though apparently hindered by no revolt, delayed the execution of the projects he had formed against Merodach-baladan for three years; and it is possible his inaction may be attributed to the fear of some complication arising on his north-western frontier. He did not carry out his scheme till 695 B.C., when all danger in that quarter had passed away. The enterprise was a difficult one, for Nagitu and the neighbouring districts were dependencies of Susa, and could not be reached by land without a violation of Blamite neutrality, which would almost inevitably lead to a conflict. Shutruk-nakhunta was no longer alive. In the very year in which his rival had set up Assur-nadin-shumu as King of Karduniash, a revolution had broken out in Elam, which was in all probability connected with the events then taking place in Babylon. His subjects were angry with him for having failed to send timely succour to his allies the Kalda, and for having allowed Bit-Yakin to be destroyed: his own brother Khalludush sided with the malcontents, threw Shutruk-nakhunta into prison, and proclaimed himself king. This time the Ninevites, thinking that Elam was certain to intervene, sought how they might finally overpower Merodach-baladan before this interference could prove effectual. The feudal constitution of the Blamite monarchy rendered, as we know, the mobilisation of the army at the opening of a war a long and difficult task: weeks might easily elapse before the first and second grades of feudatory nobility could join the royal troops and form a combined army capable of striking an important blow. This was a cause of dangerous inferiority in a conflict with the Assyrians, the chief part of whose forces, bivouacking close to the capital during the winter months, could leave their quarters and set out on a campaign at little more than a day's notice; the kings of Elam minimised the danger by keeping sufficient troops under arms on their northern and western frontiers to meet any emergency, but an attack by sea seemed to them so unlikely that they had not, for a long time past, thought of protecting their coast-line. The ancient Chaldaean cities, Uru, Bagash, Uruk, and Bridu had possessed fleets on the Persian Gulf; but the times were long past when they used to send to procure stone and wood from the countries of Magan and Melukhkha, and the seas which they had ruled were now traversed only by merchant vessels or fishing-boats. Besides this, the condition of the estuary seemed to prohibit all attack from that side. The space between Bit-Yakin and the long line of dunes or mud-banks which blocked the entrance to it was not so much a gulf as a lagoon of uncertain and shifting extent; the water flowed only in the middle, being stagnant near the shores; the whole expanse was irregularly dotted over with mud-banks, and its service was constantly altered by the alluvial soil brought down by the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Ulai, and the Uknu. The navigation of this lagoon was dangerous, for the relative positions of the channels and shallows were constantly shifting, and vessels of deep draught often ran aground in passing from one end of it to the other.*
* The condition I describe here is very similar to what Alexander's admirals found 350 years later. Arrian has preserved for us the account of Nearchus' navigation in these waters, and his description shows such a well-defined condition of the estuary that its main outline must have remained unchanged for a considerable time; the only subsequent alterations which had taken place must have been in the internal configuration, where the deposit of alluvium must have necessarily reduced the area of the lake since the time of Sennacherib. The little map on the next page has no pretension to scientific exactitude; its only object is to show roughly what the estuary of the Euphrates was like, and to illustrate approximately the course of the Assyrian expedition.
[Illustration: 048.jpg MAP THE NAR-MARRATUM IN THE TIME OF SENNACHERIB]
Sennacherib decided to march his force to the mouth of the Euphrates, and, embarking it there, to bring it to bear suddenly on the portion of Elamite territory nearest to Nagitu: if all went well, he would thus have time to crush the rising power of Merodach-baladan and regain his own port of departure before Khalludush could muster a sufficient army to render efficient succour to his vassal.
More than a year was consumed in preparations. The united cities of Chaldaea being unable to furnish the transports required to convey such a large host across the Nar-Marratum, it was necessary to construct a fleet, and to do so in such a way that the enemy should have no suspicion of danger. Sennacherib accordingly set up his dockyards at Tul-barsip on the Euphrates and at Nineveh on the Tigris, and Syrian shipwrights built him a fleet of vessels after two distinct types. Some were galleys identical in build and equipment with those which the Mediterranean natives used for their traffic with distant lands. The others followed the old Babylonian model, with stem and stern both raised, the bows being sometimes distinguished by the carving of a horse's head, which justified the name of sea-horse given to a vessel of this kind. They had no masts, but propelling power was provided by two banks of oars one above the other, as in the galleys. The two divisions of the fleet were ready at the beginning of 694 B.C., and it was arranged that they should meet at Bit-Dakkuri, to the south of Babylon.
[Illustration: 049.jpg THE FLEET OF SENNACHERIB ON THE NAR-MARRATUM]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
The fleet from Tul-barsip had merely to descend the Euphrates to reach the meeting-place,* but that from Nineveh had to make a more complicated journey.
* The story of the preparations, as it has been transmitted to us in Sennacherib's inscriptions, is curiously similar to the accounts given by the Greek historians of the vessels Alexander had built at Babylon and Thap-sacus by Phoenician workmen, which descended the Euphrates to join the fleet in the Persian Gulf. This fleet consisted of quinquiremos, according to Aristobulus, who was present at their
construction: Quintus-Curtius makes them all vessels with seven banks of oars, but he evidently confuses the galleys built at Thapsacus with those which came in sections from Phoenicia and which Alexander had put together at Babylon.
By following the course of the Tigris to its mouth it would have had to skirt the coast of Elam for a considerable distance, and would inevitably have aroused the suspicions of Khalludush; the passage of such a strong squadron must have revealed to him the importance of the enterprise, and put him on his guard. The vessels therefore stayed their course at Upi, where they were drawn ashore and transported on rollers across the narrow isthmus which separates the Tigris from the Arakhtu canal, on which they were then relaunched. Either the canal had not been well kept, or else it never had the necessary depth at certain places; but the crews managed to overcome all obstacles and rejoined their comrades in due time. Sennacherib was ready waiting for them with all his troops -- foot-soldiers, charioteers, and horsemen -- and with supplies of food for the men, and of barley and oats for the horses; as soon as the last contingent had arrived, he gave the signal for departure, and all advanced together, the army marching along the southern bank, the fleet descending the current, to the little port of Bab-Salimeti, some twelve miles below the mouth of the river.*
* The mouth of the Euphrates being at that time not far from the site of Kornah, Bab-Salimeti, which was about twelve miles distant, must have been somewhere near the present village of Abu-Hatira, on the south bank of the river.
There they halted in order to proceed to the final embarcation, but at the last moment their inexperience of the sea nearly compromised the success of the expedition. Even if they were not absolutely ignorant of the ebb and flow of the tide, they certainly did not know how dangerous the spring tide could prove at the equinox under the influence of a south wind. The rising tide then comes into conflict with the volume of water brought down by the stream, and in the encounter the banks are broken down, and sometimes large districts are inundated: this is what happened that year, to the terror of the Assyrians. Their camp was invaded and completely flooded by the waves; the king and his soldiers took refuge in haste on the galleys, where they were kept prisoners for five days |as in a huge cage.| As soon as the waters abated, they completed their preparations and started on their voyage. At the point where the Euphrates enters the lagoon, Sennacherib pushed forward to the front of the line, and, standing in the bows of his flag-ship, offered a sacrifice to Ea, the god of the Ocean. Having made a solemn libation, he threw into the water a gold model of a ship, a golden fish, and an image of the god himself, likewise in gold; this ceremony performed, he returned to the port of Bab-Salimeti with his guard, while the bulk of his forces continued their voyage eastward. The passage took place without mishap, but they could not disembark on the shore of the gulf itself, which was unapproachable by reason of the deposits of semi-liquid mud which girdled it; they therefore put into the mouth of the Ulai, and ascended the river till they reached a spot where the slimy reed-beds gave place to firm ground, which permitted them to draw their ships to land.*
* Billerbeck recognises in the narrative of Sennacherib the indication of two attempts at debarcation, of which the second only can have been successful; I can distinguish only one crossing.
The inhabitants assembled hastily at sight of the enemy, and the news, spreading through the neighbouring tribes, brought together for their defence a confused crowd of archers, chariots, and horsemen. The Assyrians, leaping into the stream and climbing up the bank, easily overpowered these undisciplined troops.
[Illustration: 052.jpg A SKIRMISH IN THE MARSHES]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
They captured at the first onset Nagitu, Nagitu-Dibina, Khilmu, Pillatu, and Khupapanu; and raiding the Kalda, forced them on board the fleet with their gods, their families, their flocks, and household possessions, and beat a hurried retreat with their booty. Merodach-baladan himself and his children once more escaped their clutches, but the State he had tried to create was annihilated, and his power utterly crushed. Sennacherib received his generals with great demonstrations of joy at Bab-Salimeti, and carried the spoil in triumph to Nineveh. Khalludush, exasperated by the affront put upon him, instantly retaliated by invading Karduniash, where he pushed forward as far as Sippara, pillaging and destroying the inhabitants without opposition. The Babylonians who had accompanied Merodach-baladan into exile, returned in the train of the Elamites, and, secretly stealing back to their homes, stirred up a general revolt: Assur-nadin-shumu, taken prisoner by his own subjects, was put in chains and despatched to Susa, his throne being bestowed on a Babylonian named Nergal-ushezib,* who at once took the field (694 B.C.).
* This is the prince whom the Assyrian documents name Shuzub, and whom we might call Shuzub the Babylonian, in contradistinction to Mushezib-marduk, who is Shuzub the Kaldu.
His preliminary efforts were successful: he ravaged the frontier along the Turnat with the help of the Elamites, and took by assault the city of Nipur, which refused to desert the cause of Sennacherib (693 B.C.). Meanwhile the Assyrian generals had captured Uruk (Erech) on the 1st of Tisri, after the retreat of Khalludush; and having sacked the city, were retreating northwards with their spoil when they were defeated on the 7th near Nipur by Nergal-ushezib. He had already rescued the statues of the gods and the treasure, when his horse fell in the midst of the fray, and he could not disengage himself. His vanquished foes led him captive to Nineveh, where Sennacherib exposed him in chains at the principal gateway of his palace: the Babylonians, who owed to him their latest success, summoned a Kaldu prince, Mushezib-marduk, son of Gahut, to take command. He hastened to comply, and with the assistance of Blamite troops offered such a determined resistance to all attack, that he was finally left in undisturbed possession of his kingdom (692 B.C.): the actual result to Assyria, therefore, of the ephemeral victory gained by the fleet had been the loss of Babylon.
[Illustration: 054.jpg THE HORSE OF NERGAL-USHEZIB FALLING IN THE BATTLE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
A revolution in Elam speedily afforded Assyria an opportunity for revenge. When Nergal-ushezib was taken prisoner, the people of Susa, dissatisfied with the want of activity displayed by Khalludush, conspired to depose him: on hearing, therefore, the news of the revolutions in Chaldaea, they rose in revolt on the 26th of Tisri, and, besieging him in his palace, put him to death, and elected a certain Kutur-nakhunta as his successor. Sennacherib, without a moment's hesitation, crossed the frontier at Durilu, before order was re-established at Susa, and recovered, after very slight resistance, Baza and Bit-khairi which Shutruk-nakhunta had taken from Sargon. This preliminary success laid the lower plain of Susiana at his mercy, and he ravaged it pitilessly from Baza to Bit-bunaki. |Thirty-four strongholds and the townships depending on them, whose number is unequalled, I besieged and took by assault, their inhabitants I led into captivity, I demolished them and reduced them to ashes: I caused the smoke of their burning to rise into the wide heaven, like the smoke of one great sacrifice.| Kutur-nakhunta, still insecurely seated on the throne of Susa, retreated with his army towards Khaidalu, in the almost unexplored regions which bordered the Banian plateau,* and entrenched himself strongly in the heart of the mountains.
* Khaidalu is very probably the present Dis Malkan.
The season was already well advanced when the Assyrians set out on this expedition, and November set in while they were ravaging the plain: but the weather was still so fine that Sennacherib determined to take advantage of it to march upon Madaktu. Hardly had he scaled the heights when winter fell upon him with its accompaniment of cold and squally weather. |Violent storms broke out, it rained and snowed incessantly, the torrents and streams overflowed their banks,| so that hostilities had to be suspended and the troops ordered back to Nineveh. The effect produced, however, by these bold measures was in no way diminished: though Kutur-nakhunta had not had the necessary time to prepare for the contest, he was nevertheless discredited among his subjects for failing to bring them out of it with glory, and three months after the retreat of the Assyrians he was assassinated in a riot on the 20th of Ab, 692 B.C.*
* The Assyrian documents merely mention the death of Kutur- nakhunta less than three months after the return of Sennacherib to Nineveh. Pinches' Babylonian Chronicle only mentions the revolution in which he perished, and informs us that he had reigned ten months. It contracts Umman-minanu, the name of the Elamite king, to Minanu.
His younger brother, Umman-minanu, assumed the crown, and though his enemies disdainfully refused to credit him with either prudence or judgment, he soon restored his kingdom to such a formidable degree of power that Mushezib-marduk thought the opportunity a favourable one for striking a blow at Assyria, from which she could never recover. Elam had plenty of troops, but was deficient in the resources necessary to pay the men and their chiefs, and to induce the tribes of the table-land to furnish their contingents. Mushezib-marduk, therefore, emptied the sacred treasury of E-sagilla, and sent the gold and silver of Bel and Zarpanit to Umman-minanu with a message which ran thus: |Assemble thine army, and prepare thy camp, come to Babylon and strengthen our hands, for thou art our help.| The Elamite asked nothing better than to avenge the provinces so cruelly harassed, and the cities consumed in the course of the last campaign: he summoned all his nobles, from the least to the greatest, and enlisted the help of the troops of Parsuas, Ellipi, and Anzan, the Aramaean Puqudu and Gambulu of the Tigris, as well as the Aramaeans of the Euphrates, and the peoples of Bit-Adini and Bit-Amukkani, who had rallied round Sam una, son of Merodach-baladan, and joined forces with the soldiers of Mushezib-marduk in Babylon. |Like an invasion of countless locusts swooping down upon the land, they assembled, resolved to give me battle, and the dust of their feet rose before me, like a thick cloud which darkens the copper-coloured dome of the sky.| The conflict took place near the township of Khalule, on the banks of the Tigris, not far from the confluence of this river with the Turnat.*
* Haupt attributes to the name the signification holes, bogs, and this interpretation agrees well enough with the state of the country round the mouths of the Diyala, in the low-lying district which separates that river from the Tigris; he compares it with the name Haulayeh, quoted by Arab geographers in this neighbourhood, and with that of the canton of Haleh, mentioned in Syrian texts as belonging to the district of Radhan, between the Adhem and the Diyala.
At this point the Turnat, flowing through the plain, divides into several branches, which ramify again and again, and form a kind of delta extending from the ruins of Nayan to those of Reshadeh. During the whole of the day the engagement between the two hosts raged on this unstable soil, and their leaders themselves sold their lives dearly in the struggle. Sennacherib invoked the help of Assur, Sin, Shamash, Nebo, Bel, Nergal, Ishtar of Nineveh, and Ishtar of Arbela, and the gods heard his prayers. |Like a lion I raged, I donned my harness, I covered my head with my casque, the badge of war; my powerful battle-chariot, which mows down the rebels, I ascended it in haste in the rage of my heart; the strong bow which Assur entrusted to me, I seized it, and the javelin, destroyer of life, I grasped it: the whole host of obdurate rebels I charged, shining like silver or like the day, and I roared as Kamman roareth.| Khumba-undash, the Elamite general, was killed in one of the first encounters, and many of his officers perished around him, |of those who wore golden daggers at their belts, and bracelets of gold on their wrists.| They fell one after the other, |like fat bulls chained| for the sacrifice, or like sheep, and their blood flowed on the broad plain as the water after a violent storm: the horses plunged in it up to their knees, and the body of the royal chariot was reddened with it. A son of Merodach-baladan, Nabu-shumishkun, was taken prisoner, but Umman-minanu and Mushezib-marduk escaped unhurt from the fatal field. It seems as if fortune had at last decided in favour of the Assyrians, and they proclaimed the fact loudly, but their success was not so evident as to preclude their adversaries also claiming the victory with some show of truth. In any case, the losses on both sides were so considerable as to force the two belligerents to suspend operations; they returned each to his capital, and matters remained much as they had been before the battle took place.*
* Pinches' Babylonian Chronicle attributes the victory to the Elamites, and says that the year in which the battle was fought was unknown. The testimony of this chronicle is so often marred by partiality, that to prefer it always to that of the Ninevite inscriptions shows deficiency of critical ability: the course of events seems to me to prove that the advantage remained with the Assyrians, though the victory was not decisive. The date, which necessarily falls between 692 and 689 B.C., has been decided by general considerations as 691 B.C., the very year in which the Taylor Cylinder was written.
Years might have elapsed before Sennacherib could have ventured to recommence hostilities: he was not deluded by the exaggerated estimate of his victory in the accounts given by his court historians, and he recognised the fact that the issue of the struggle must be uncertain as long as the alliance subsisted between Elam and Chaldaea. But fortune came to his aid sooner than he had expected. Umman-minanu was not absolute in his dominions any more than his predecessors had been, and the losses he had sustained at Khalule, without obtaining any compensating advantages in the form of prisoners or spoil, had lowered him in the estimation of his vassals; Mushezib-marduk, on the other hand, had emptied his treasuries, and though Karduniash was wealthy, it was hardly able, after such a short interval, to provide further subsidies to purchase the assistance of the mountain tribes. Sennacherib's emissaries kept him well informed of all that occurred in the enemy's court, and he accordingly took the field again at the beginning of 689 B.C., and on this occasion circumstances seemed likely to combine to give him an easy victory.*
* The Assyrian documents insert the account of the capture of Babylon directly after the battle of Khalule, and modern historians therefore concluded that the two events took place within a few months of each other. The information afforded by Pinches' Babylonian Chronicle has enabled us to correct this mistake, and to bring down the date of the taking of Babylon to 689 B.C.
Mushezib-marduk shut himself up in Babylon, not doubting that the Elamites would hasten to his succour as soon as they should hear of his distress; but his expectation was not fulfilled. Umman-minanu was struck down by apoplexy, on the 15th of Nisan, and though his illness did not at once terminate fatally, he was left paralysed with distorted mouth, and loss of speech, incapable of action, and almost unfit to govern. His seizure put a stop to his warlike preparations: and his ministers, preoccupied with the urgent question of the succession to the throne, had no desire to provoke a conflict with Assyria, the issue of which could not be foretold: they therefore left their ally to defend his own interests as best he might. Babylon, reduced to rely entirely on its own resources, does not seem to have held out long, and perhaps the remembrance of the treatment it had received on former occasions may account for the very slight resistance it now offered. The Assyrian kings who had from time to time conquered Babylon, had always treated it with great consideration. They had looked upon it as a sacred city, whose caprices and outbreaks must always be pardoned; it was only with infinite precautions that they had imposed their commands upon it, and even when they had felt that severity was desirable, they had restrained themselves in using it, and humoured the idiosyncrasies of the inhabitants. Tiglath-pileser III, Shalmaneser V., and Sargon had all preferred to be legally crowned as sovereigns of Babylon instead of remaining merely its masters by right of conquest, and though Sennacherib had refused compliance with the traditions by which his predecessors had submitted to be bound, he had behaved with unwonted lenity after quelling the two previous revolts. He now recognised that his clemency had been shown in vain, and his small stock of patience was completely exhausted just when fate threw the rebellious city into his power. If the inhabitants had expected to be once more let off easily, their illusions were speedily dissipated: they were slain by the sword as if they had been ordinary foes, such as Jews, Tibarenians, or Kalda of Bit-Yakin, and they were spared none of the horrors which custom then permitted the stronger to inflict upon the weaker. For several days the pitiless massacre lasted. Young and old, all who fell into the hands of the soldiery, perished by the sword; piles of corpses filled the streets and the approaches to the temples, especially the avenue of winged bulls which led to E-sagilla, and, even after the first fury of carnage had been appeased, it was only to be succeeded by more organised pillage. Mushezib-marduk was sent into exile with his family, and immense convoys of prisoners and spoil followed him. The treasures carried off from the royal palace, the temples, and the houses of the rich nobles were divided among the conquerors: they comprised gold, silver, precious stones, costly stuffs, and provisions of all sorts. The sacred edifices were sacked, the images hacked to pieces or carried off to Nineveh: Bel-Marduk, introduced into the sanctuary of Assur, became subordinate to the rival deity amid a crowd of strange gods. In the inmost recess of a chapel were discovered some ancient statues of Kamman and Shala of E-kallati, which Marduk-nadin-akhe had carried off in the time of Tiglath-pileser I., and these were brought back in triumph to their own land, after an absence of four hundred and eighteen years. The buildings themselves suffered a like fate to that of their owners and their gods. |The city and its houses, from foundation to roof, I destroyed them, I demolished them, I burnt them with fire; walls, gateways, sacred chapels, and the towers of earth and tiles, I laid them all low and cast them into the Arakhtu.| The incessant revolts of the people justified this wholesale destruction. Babylon, as we have said before, was too powerful to be reduced for long to the second rank in a Mesopotamian empire: as soon as fate established the seat of empire in the districts bordering on the Euphrates and the middle course of the Tigris, its well-chosen situation, its size, its riches, the extent of its population, the number of its temples, and the beauty of its palaces, all conspired to make it the capital of the country. In vain Assur, Calah, or Nineveh thrust themselves into the foremost rank, and by a strenuous effort made their princes rulers of Babylon; in a short time Babylon replenished her treasury, found allies, soldiers, and leaders, and in spite of reverses of fortune soon regained the upper hand. The only treatment which could effectually destroy her ascendency was that of leaving in her not one brick upon another, thus preventing her from being re-peopled for several generations, since a new city could not at once spring up from the ashes of the old; until she had been utterly destroyed her conquerors had still reason to fear her. This fact Sennacherib, or his councillors, knew well. If he merits any reproach, it is not for having seized the opportunity of destroying the city which Babylon offered him, but rather for not having persevered in his design to the end, and reduced her to a mere name.
In the midst of these costly and absorbing wars, we may well wonder how Sennacherib found time and means to build villas or temples; yet he is nevertheless, among the kings of Assyria, the monarch who has left us the largest number of monuments. He restored a shrine of Nergal in the small town of Tarbizi; he fortified the village of Alshi; and in 704 B.C. he founded a royal residence in the fortress of Kakzi, which defended the approach to Calah from the south-east. He did not reside much at Dur-Sharrukin, neither did he complete the decoration of his father's palace there: his pride as a victorious warrior suffered when his surroundings reminded him of a more successful conqueror than himself, and Calah itself was too full of memories of Tiglath-pileser III. and the sovereigns of the eighth century for him to desire to establish his court there. He preferred to reside at Nineveh, which had been much neglected by his predecessors, and where the crumbling edifices merely recalled the memory of long-vanished splendours.
[Illustration: 063.jpg THE MOUNDS OF NINEVEH SEEN FROM THE TERRACE OF A HOUSE IN MOSUL]
Drawn by Boudier, from a lithograph in Layard.
He selected this city as his residence at the very beginning of his reign, perhaps while he was still only crown prince, and began by repairing its ancient fortifications; later on, when the success of his earlier campaigns had furnished him with a sufficient supply of prisoners, he undertook the restoration of the whole city, with its avenues, streets, canals, quays, gardens, and aqueducts: the labour of all the captives brought together from different quarters of his empire was pressed into the execution of his plans -- the Kalda, the Aramaeans, the Mannai, the people of Kui, the Cilicians, the Philistines, and the iyrians; the provinces vied with each other in furnishing him with materials without stint, -- precious woods were procured from Syria, marbles from Kapri-dargila, alabaster from Balad, while Bit-Yakin provided the rushes to be laid between the courses of brickwork. The river Tebilti, after causing the downfall of the royal mausolea and |displaying to the light of day the coffins which they concealed,| had sapped the foundations of the palace of Assur-nazir-pal, and caused it to fall in: a muddy pool now occupied the north-western quarter, between the court of Ishtar and the lofty ziggurat of Assur. This pool Sennacherib filled up, and regulated the course of the stream, providing against the recurrence of such-accidents in future by building a substructure of masonry, 454 cubits long by 289 wide, formed of large blocks of stone cemented together by bitumen. On this he erected a magnificent palace, a Bit-Khilani in the Syrian style, with woodwork of fragrant cedar and cypress overlaid with gold and silver, panellings of sculptured marble and alabaster, and friezes and cornices in glazed tiles of brilliant colouring: inspired by the goddess Nin-kurra, he caused winged bulls of white alabaster and limestone statues of the gods to be hewn in the quarries of Balad near Nineveh. He presided in person at all these operations -- at the raising of the soil, the making of the substructures of the terrace, the transport of the colossal statues or blocks and their subsequent erection; indeed, he was to be seen at every turn, standing in Ids ebony and ivory chariot, drawn by a team of men. When the building was finished, he was so delighted with its beauty that he named it |the incomparable palace,| and his admiration was shared by his contemporaries; they were never wearied of extolling in glowing terms the twelve bronze lions, the twelve winged bulls, and the twenty-four statues of goddesses which kept watch over the entrance, and for the construction of which a new method of rapid casting had been invented.
[Illustration: 065.jpg KING SENNACHERIB WATCHING THE TRANSPORT OF A COLOSSAL STATUE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
Formerly the erection of such edifices cost much in suffering to the artificers employed on them, but Sennacherib brought his great enterprise to a prompt completion without extravagant outlay or unnecessary hardship inflicted on his workmen. He proceeded to annex the neighbouring quarters of the city, relegating the inhabitants to the suburbs while he laid out a great park on the land thus cleared; this park was well planted with trees, like the heights of Amanus, and in it flourished side by side all the forest growths indigenousnto the Cilician mountains and the plains of Chaldaea. A lake, fed by a canal leading from the Khuzur, supplied it with water, which was conducted in streams and rills through the thickets, keeping them always fresh and green. Vines trained on trellises afforded a grateful shade during the sultry hours of the day; birds sang in the branches, herds of wild boar and deer roamed through the coverts, in order that the prince might enjoy the pleasures of the chase without quitting his own private grounds.
[Illustration: 066.jpg ASSYRIAN BAS-RELIEFS AT BAVIAN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch in Layard.
The main part of these constructions was finished about 700 B.C., but many details were left incomplete, and the work was still proceeding after the court had long been in residence on the spot. Meanwhile a smaller palace, as well as barracks and a depot for arms and provisions, sprang up elsewhere. Eighteen aqueducts, carried across the country, brought the water from the Muzri to the Khuzur, and secured an adequate supply to the city; the Ninevites, who had hitherto relied upon rain-water for the replenishing of their cisterns, awoke one day to find themselves released from all anxiety on this score. An ancient and semi-subterranean canal, which Assur-nazir-pal had constructed nearly two centuries before, but which, owing to the neglect of his successors, had become choked up, was cleaned out, enlarged and repaired, and made capable of bringing water to their doors from the springs of Mount Tas, in the same year as that in which the battle of Khalule took place.* At a later date, magnificent bas-reliefs, carved on the rock by order of Esar-haddon, representing winged bulls, figures of the gods and of the king, with explanatory inscriptions, marked the site of the springs, and formed a kind of monumental facade to the ravine in which they took their rise.**
* Mount Tas is the group of hills enclosing the ravine of Bavian. These works were described in the Bavian
inscription, of which they occupy the whole of the first part.
** The Bavian text speaks of six inscriptions and statues which the king had engraved on the Mount of Tas, at the source of the stream.
It would be hard to account for the rapidity with which these great works were completed, did one not remember that Sargon had previously carried out extensive architectural schemes, in which he must have employed all the available artists in his empire. The revolutions which had shattered the realm under the last descendants of Assur-nazir-pal, and the consequent impoverishment of the kingdom, had not been without a disastrous effect on the schools of Assyrian sculpture.
[ Illustration: 068.jpg UNKNOWN SUBJECTS FROM THE FIFTH TOMB]
[Illustration: 069.jpg GREAT ASSYRIAN STELE AT BAVIAIT.]
Drawn by Boudior, from Layard.
Since the royal treasury alone was able to bear the expense of those vast compositions in which the artistic skill of the period could have free play, the closing of the royal workshops, owing to the misfortunes of the time, had the immediate effect of emptying the sculptors' studios. Even though the period of depression lasted for the space of two or three generations only, it became difficult to obtain artistic workmen; and those who were not discouraged from the pursuit of art by the uncertainty of employment, no longer possessed the high degree of skill attained by their predecessors, owing to lack of opportunity to cultivate it. Sculpture was at a very low ebb when Tiglath-pileser III. desired to emulate the royal builders of days gone by, and the awkwardness of composition noticeable in some of his bas-reliefs, and the almost barbaric style of the stelae erected by persons of even so high a rank as Belharran-beluzur, prove the lamentable deficiency of good artists at that epoch, and show that the king had no choice but to employ all the surviving members of the ancient guilds, whether good, bad, or indifferent workmen. The increased demand, however, soon produced an adequate supply of workers, and when Sargon ascended the throne, the royal guild of sculptors had been thoroughly reconstituted; the inefficient workmen on whom Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser had been obliged to rely had been eliminated in course of time, and many of the sculptures which adorned the palace at Khorsabad display a purity of design and boldness of execution comparable to that of the best Egyptian art. The composition still shows traces of Chaldaean stiffness, and the exaggerated drawing of the muscles produces an occasionally unpleasing-heaviness of outline, but none the less the work as a whole constitutes one of the richest and most ingenious schemes of decoration ever devised, which, while its colouring was still perfect, must have equalled in splendour the great triumphal battle-scenes at Ibsambul or Medinet-Habu. Sennacherib found ready to his hand a body of well-trained artists, whose number had considerably increased during the reign of Sargon, and he profited by the experience which they had acquired and the talent that many of them had developed. What immediately strikes the spectator in the series of pictures produced under his auspices, is the great skill with which his artists covered the whole surface at their disposal without overcrowding it. They no longer treated their subject, whether it were a warlike expedition, a hunting excursion, a sacrificial scene, or an episode of domestic life, as a simple juxtaposition of groups of almost equal importance ranged at the same elevation along the walls, the subject of each bas-relief being complete in itself and without any necessary connection with its neighbour. They now selected two or three principal incidents from the subjects proposed to them for representation, and round these they grouped such of the less important episodes as lent themselves best to picturesque treatment, and scattered sparingly over the rest of the field the minor accessories which seemed suitable to indicate more precisely the scene of the action. Under the auspices of this later school, Assyrian foot-soldiers are no longer depicted attacking the barbarians of Media or Elam on backgrounds of smooth stone, where no line marks the various levels, and where the remoter figures appear to be walking in the air without anything to support them. If the battle represented took place on a wooded slope crowned by a stronghold on the summit of the hill, the artist, in order to give an impression of the surroundings, covered his background with guilloche patterns by which to represent the rugged surface of the mountains; he placed here and there groups of various kinds of trees, especially the straight cypresses and firs which grew upon the slopes of the Iranian table-land: or he represented a body of lancers galloping in single file along the narrow woodland paths, and hastening to surprise a distant enemy, or again foot-soldiers chasing their foes through the forest or engaging them in single combat; while in the corners of the picture the wounded are being stabbed or otherwise despatched, fugitives are trying to escape through the undergrowth, and shepherds are pleading with the victors for their lives. It is the actual scene the sculptor sets himself to depict, and one is sometimes inclined to ask, while noting the precision with which the details of the battle are rendered, whether the picture was not drawn on the spot, and whether the conqueror did not carry artists in his train to make sketches for the decorators of the main features of the country traversed and of the victories won. The masses of infantry seem actually in motion, a troop of horsemen rush blindly over uneven ground, and the episodes of their raid are unfolded in all their confusion with unfailing animation.
[Illustration: 073.jpg AN ASSYRIAN CAVALRY RAID THROUGH THE WOODS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
For the first time a spectator can realise Assyrian warfare with its striking contrasts of bravery and unbridled cruelty; he is no longer reduced to spell out laboriously a monotonous narrative of a battle, for the battle takes place actually before his eyes. And after the return from the scene of action, when it is desired to show how the victor employed his prisoners for the greater honour of his gods and his own glory, the picture is no less detailed and realistic.
[Illustration: 074.jpg (and 75) TRANSPORT OF A WINGED BULL ON A SLEDGE.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
There we see them, the noble and the great of all the conquered nations, Chaldaeans and Elamites, inhabitants of Cilicia, Phoenicia, and Judaea, harnessed to ropes and goaded by the whips of the overseers, dragging the colossal bull which is destined to mount guard at the gates of the palace: with bodies bent, pendant arms, and faces contorted with pain, they, who had been the chief men in their cities, now take the place of beasts of burden, while Sennacherib, erect on his state chariot, with steady glance and lips compressed, watches them as they pass slowly before him in their ignominy and misery.
After the destruction of Babylon there is a pause in the history of the conqueror, and with him in that of Assyria itself. It seems as if Nineveh had been exhausted by the greatness of her effort, and was stopping to take breath before setting out on a fresh career of conquest: the other nations also, as if overwhelmed by the magnitude of the catastrophe, appear to have henceforth despaired of their own security, and sought only how to avoid whatever might rouse against them the enmity of the master of the hour. His empire formed a compact and solid block in their midst, on which no human force seemed capable of making any impression. They had attacked it each in turn, or all at once, Elam in the east, Urartu in the north, Egypt in the south-west, and their efforts had not only miserably failed, but had for the most part drawn down upon them disastrous reprisals. The people of Urartu remained in gloomy inaction amidst their mountains, the Elamites had lost their supremacy over half the Aramaean tribes, and if Egypt was as yet inaccessible beyond the intervening deserts, she owed it less to the strength of her armies than to the mysterious fatality at Libnah. In one half-century the Assyrians had effectually and permanently disabled the first of these kingdoms, and inflicted on the others such serious injuries that they were slow in recovering from them. The fate of these proud nations had intimidated the inferior states -- Arabs, Medes, tribes of Asia Minor, barbarous Cimmerians or Scythians, -- all alike were careful to repress their natural inclinations to rapine and plunder. If occasionally their love of booty overpowered their prudence, and they hazarded a raid on some defenceless village in the neighbouring border territory, troops were hastily despatched from the nearest Assyrian garrison, who speedily drove them back across the frontier, and pursuing them into their own country, inflicted on them so severe a punishment that they remained for some considerable time paralysed by awe and terror. Assyria was the foremost kingdom of the East, and indeed of the whole world, and the hegemony which she exercised over all the countries within her reach cannot be accounted for solely by her military superiority. Not only did she excel in the art of conquest, as many before her had done -- Babylonians, Elamites, Hittites, and Egyptians -- but she did what none of them had been able to accomplish; she exacted lasting obedience from the conquered nations, ruling them with a firm hand, and accustoming them to live on good terms with one another in spite of diversity of race, and this with a light rein, with unfailing tact, and apparently with but little effort. The system of deportation so resolutely carried out by Tiglath-pileser III. and Sargon began to produce effect, and up to this time the most happy results only were discernible. The colonies which had been planted throughout the empire from Palestine to Media, some of them two generations previously, others within recent years, were becoming more and more acclimatised to their new surroundings, on which they were producing the effect desired by their conquerors; they were meant to hold in check the populations in whose midst they had been set down, to act as a curb upon them, and also to break up their national unity and thus gradually prepare them for absorption into a wider fatherland, in which they would cease to be exclusively Damascenes, Samaritans, Hittites, or Aramaeans, since they would become Assyrians and fellow-citizens of a mighty empire. The provinces, brought at length under a regular system of government, protected against external dangers and internal discord, by a well-disciplined soldiery, and enjoying a peace and security they had rarely known in the days of their independence, gradually became accustomed to live in concord under the rule of a common sovereign, and to feel themselves portions of a single empire. The speech of Assyria was their official language, the gods of Assyria were associated with their national gods in the prayers they offered up for the welfare of the sovereign, and foreign nations with whom they were brought into communication no longer distinguished between them and their conquerors, calling their country Assyria, and regarding its inhabitants as Assyrians. As is invariably the case, domestic peace and good administration had caused a sudden development of wealth and commercial activity. Although Nineveh and Calah never became such centres of trade and industry as Babylon had been, yet the presence of the court and the sovereign attracted thither merchants from all parts of the world.
[Illustration: 079.jpg SENNACHERIB]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Layard.
The Medes, reaching the capital by way of the passes of Kowandiz and Suleimaniyeh, brought in the lapis-lazuli, precious stones, metals, and woollen stuffs of Central Asia and the farthest East, while the Phoenicians and even Greeks, who were already following in their foot steps, came thither to sell in the a bazaars of Assyria the most precious of the wares brought back by their merchant vessels from the shores of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, and the farthest West. The great cities of the triangle of Assyria were gradually supplanting all the capitals of the ancient world, not excepting Memphis, and becoming the centres of universal trade; unexcelled for centuries in the arts of war, Assyria was in a fair way to become mistress also in the arts of peace. A Jewish prophet thus described the empire at a later date: |The Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches, and with a shadowing shroud, and of an high stature; and his top was among the thick clouds. The waters nourished him, the deep made him grow: therefore his stature was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long by reason of many waters, when he shot them forth. All the fowls of the heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations. Thus was he fair in his greatness, in the length of his branches: for his root was by many waters. The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the plane trees were not as his branches; nor was any tree like unto him in beauty: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.| (Ezek. xxxi.3-9).